Aviation International News has awarded HAI, the US Helicopter Safety Team (USHST), and the Vertical Aviation Safety Team (VAST) its 2021 Contribution to Safety Top Flight Award for the organizations’ collaborative “56 Seconds to Live” video and companion course.

Aviation International News named the “56 Seconds to Live” video and companion course, produced by the US Helicopter Safety Team, as its “top flight” 2021 Contribution to Safety (USHST photo)

Announced on Dec. 1, the media company’s Top Flight Awards are designed to recognize the best and brightest in business aviation and to honor creativity, innovation, quality, and passion as well as significant contributions by aviation industry professionals.

The USHST conducted a study of 221 fatal helicopter accidents between 2009 and 2019 and found that most happened within 56 seconds of encountering unintentional flight into instrument meteorological conditions (UIMC). Developed to increase awareness of UIMC, the “56 Seconds to Live” video was released in February 2021, just days after the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued its probable-­cause finding on the Jan. 26, 2020, Calabasas, California, helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and eight others. The NTSB determined that the accident resulted from the pilot having experienced spatial disorientation after inadvertently flying into IMC.

The video takes viewers on a fictional flight, illustrating the pilot’s actions and decisions as they unfold as well as factors that contribute to his encounter with UIMC. The one-hour companion, scenario-­based training course expands on the experience in the video, teaching pilots to recognize situations that can lead to UIMC and to use sound aeronautical decision-­making to stop a flight before an accident occurs.

The course, which is eligible for FAA WINGS credit, includes a simulated-­accident video and four alternate scenarios demonstrating examples of aeronautical decision-making that would have prevented the accident, as well as video messages from members of the USHST steering committee and other industry leaders. Course attendees also receive guidance, tips, tactics, recommended practices, and links to course-related materials for further learning.

To learn more, watch the video, or take the course, visit ushst.org/56secs/. And for other original HAI resources for pilot UIMC education, written by ­helicopter pilots for helicopter pilots, see “In the Spotlight,” on p. 22.


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