The US Helicopter Safety Team (USHST) has published a list of the four key helicopter technologies that it believes will save lives in the future. USHST said it analysed dozens of helicopters accidents, and used this data to pinpoint which technologies will be most important when further developed and used widely.
The first key technology will be the development of autopilot software for light helicopters. USHST says that the development of a stability integration system for light aircraft will help to reduce the demanding pilot work load in this kind of aircraft, and can be an effective safety tool during low visibility, low ceiling and unintended IMC conditions.
The development of full authority idle protection devices is the second technology that could make a difference. It could reduce the risk of engine stoppage in a piston helicopter, the USHST said, and the device would be capable of ensuring that the engine remains running at nominal RPM despite the pilot making a rapid throttle reduction. The USHST believes that current technologies can be adapted for the development of this device.
Thirdly, USHST suggests installing and using flight data monitoring equipment, including both audio and video monitoring devices. According to USHST, the majority of fatal accidents since 2009 have insufficient data surrounding the details of the helicopter’s state when accident occurred; USHST believes that with flight data monitoring information, hazardous behaviour can be identified and there is an opportunity to break the accident chain before it results in fatalities.
Finally, USHST believes providing enhanced vision technology, whenever warranted, will help reduce fatalities. Night vision goggles, synthetic vision systems, and combined vision systems assist a pilot in recognising and preventing unplanned flight into degraded visibility conditions due to weather. USHST also believes that this technology provides pilots with better tools that can contribute to more informed and proactive decision making as related to visibility.