A Vision of Zero Accidents, and a Mission of a Safer Community

Nicola Tims
March 12, 2020

In September 2005, the Vertical Flight Society (VFS, then AHS International) and Helicopter Association International (HAI) held the first International Helicopter Safety Symposium (IHSS) in Canada.

Attendees, from 13 countries across five continents, included representatives from the Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS), Tour Operators Program of Safety (TOPS), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), Transport Canada (TC), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Transport Canada Transportation Board (TCTB), among others.

Mutual understanding from attendees was clear; adverse effects were being seen in the industry, due to an increase in high profile, fatal accidents.

The result of this symposium was the establishment of the International Helicopter Safety Federation (IHSF) -- to help determine what went wrong, and why.

Rather than rule with more regulations, they looked at a data-driven approach; research, collect, and analyse past accidents, and develop strategies to mitigate similar events happening again in the future.

Fast forward to today - owners and operators from over 35 countries complete the survey and contribute towards the efforts of IHSF, with their latest survey released at the end of 2019. The survey looks at which segments of the helicopter industry are following their best-suggested practices, as well as which regions around the world.

In their 2018 survey, IHSF analysed over 1,000 accidents from 112 different countries - a 76% increase in global participation compared 2017, and in their findings, summarised the four areas that offer the most significant opportunities to prevent helicopter accidents:

  1. Safety Management Systems (SMS)
  2. Structured programs for initial and recurrent training
  3. Mission-specific systems and equipment, including:
    a. Health & usage monitoring systems (HUMS)
    b. Flight data monitoring (FDM) programs
    c. Night vision goggles
    d. Wire strike protection
  4. Structured programs to fully comply with manufacturers’ recommended maintenance practices

The results of the survey also showed that only 23% of those operating under instruction and training said they were using Flight Data Monitoring (FDM) programs. The question then stands - is there perhaps a requirement for more recognition and awareness about cost-effective solutions that are available to the Commercial General Aviation industry?

So what exactly is Flight Data Monitoring?

FDM is a systematic method of accessing, analyzing, and acting upon information obtained from flight data to identify and address operational risks before they can lead to incidents and accidents. The information and insights provided by FDM can also provide insight to reduce operational costs and significantly enhance the effectiveness of training and operational, maintenance, and engineering procedures. Information from FDM programs is unique since it provides objective data that otherwise is not available.

Solutions like Spidertracks offer peace of mind for both the operator and the pilot, ensuring that if something were to go wrong, someone on the ground would be immediately aware and able to send help in the right direction. It gives you the ability to track, follow, and monitor your fleet in real-time, as well as acting as a communication tool, aircraft-to-aircraft, aircraft-to-ground, and ground-to-ground, via a dedicated satellite channel. This means you are connected no matter where you fly, whether this is over bodies of water, or in the most remote areas of the globe.

And what exactly is a Safety Management System (SMS)?

At its core, an SMS is a multi-pronged approach to safety that targets all areas of an operation to identify weak spots and correct them — a pro-active as opposed to reactive strategy.

For more on this, check out our free eBook, entitled: 5 Practical Tips on Building a Strong Safety Management System (SMS) for Your Aviation Business - you can download it here.

Safety First

IHSF’s vision is simple - an international community with zero accidents. This mission aligns with our own - helping make the aviation community a safer place to live and operate in.

We’re proud to offer a solution that meets some of IHSF’s key recommendations, and to make it accessible as a cost-effective, all-inclusive unit - where it can support FDM and SMS programs, and get people home safely at the end of the day.


If you’re looking for a cost-effective solution to help improve the safety and operational efficiencies of your fleet, talk to us today and schedule a free demo.

Keep up with the latest aviation insights

Subscribe for industry news, delivered direct to your inbox ⤸