WASHINGTON. Aviation passenger organization and member of the FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee FlyersRights.org is calling on the FAA to ground all helicopters not compliant with crashworthy standards.
“Helicopter air crash fatalities involve dozens of horrible and mostly preventable passenger deaths annually due to fire, drowning, and impact trauma,” says Paul Hudson, president of FlyersRights.org. “The recent fatal tourist helicopter crashes in Hawaii, the Grand Canyon and the New York City East River make further delay by the FAA in enforcing 24-year-old safety standards intolerable.”
Modern helicopter cabin designs take into account passenger safety, industry pundits say. Images courtesy Bell.
Safety standards include features to prevent fuel from igniting on impact, quick release harnesses, floatation devices, impact resistance seats, and structural elements. As of 2014, only 16 percent of helicopters complied with 1994 crash standards. Most helicopters, even those that are newly manufactured, have been granted waivers for 1994 standards; and, helicopters that were previously manufactured are not currently required to be retrofitted, officials say.
The pilot should be able to activate a master tether release to allow passengers to quickly egress from their harnesses; further, officials say, the FAA should recommend or requires twin engine helicopter motors, especially for commercial helicopters offering air transportation to the general public, as the absence of a backup engine makes air crashes certain when the primary engine fails.
In December 2015, the FAA and its Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee, over Flyersrights.org strenuous objections, delayed enforcement of the helicopter safety standards for two years with a new cost-benefit study. That study has now recommended another 10 years delay to partially implement the 1994 standards.
YouTube helicopter crash videos vividly show the deadly result of unenforced helicopter safety features, enforcement, and testing, officials add.
FlyersRights.org is a nonprofit organization for airline passengers. It operates a hotline for passengers at 877-FLYERS6, publishes a weekly newsletter, serves on the FAA Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee, and maintains an office in Washington, D.C. for public education and advocacy. Among its multiple rulemaking efforts, FlyersRights.org recently won a case in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, forcing the FAA to reconsider its refusal to regulate seat sizes in light of the threat on safety and emergency evacuations. FlyersRights.org President Paul Hudson has been a national advocate for passenger rights interests for over 25 years.