HAI@Work webinar focuses on the value of a strong safety culture in preventing accidents.

On Jan. 29, 2019, a Survival Flight air ambulance Bell 407 crashed four miles northeast of Zaleski, Ohio, after entering inadvertent instrument meteorological conditions (IIMC), killing three. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) ultimately cited the operator’s “inadequate management of safety” as the primary probable cause. The factors contributing to the accident are eye-opening and offer a great deal of insight into the importance of maintaining a strong safety culture and how to develop one.

At the HAI@Work webinar on May 6, experts from NTSB and other safety-focused organizations, including HAI, analyzed the accident as part of the annual HAI Safety Symposium. Typically held at HAI HELI-EXPO® and jointly produced by HAI, the FAA, and the NTSB, the symposium examines safety trends in the helicopter industry.

The panelists at last week’s webinar included:

  • Matt Cabak, Team Lead, Office of Accident Investigation and Prevention, FAA
  • Clint Johnson, Chief, Alaska Region, NTSB
  • Rick Kenin, Chief Operating Officer—Transport, Boston MedFlight, and Chair, HAI Safety Working Group
  • Matt Rigsby, Air Safety Investigator, Office of Accident Investigation and Prevention, FAA
  • Shaun Williams, Senior Aviation Accident Investigator, Central Region, NTSB.

Williams began the symposium with a very frank, step-by-step analysis of the accident and the clear breakdown in safety that began long before the flight took off. At the center of this failure of safety culture was an overwhelming company culture of pressure to fly no matter what.

“This accident was entirely preventable,” Williams told the attendees. “Pressures will be put on you, sometimes by yourself and sometimes from outside. A solid and healthy safety culture where risks are mitigated for you aids in reducing this pressure and increases safety.”

Williams walked through several points of evidence the NTSB gathered that highlighted the operator’s poor safety culture and how that culture contributed to the accident. These points include accepting flights when other operators turn them down, failing to complete preflight risk assessments, and experiencing pressure from superiors to fly.

The second half of the symposium focused on what operators and pilots can do to develop a strong safety culture as well as tips on how to avoid IIMC and what to do if you do encounter it. The panelists also took considerable time to answer many thought-provoking questions from webinar participants.

To learn more about the details of this accident and hear advice from the FAA and NTSB regarding lessons learned, watch the video of the webinar in its entirety.

Please join us at 4 pm eastern May 13 for another HAI@Work webinar, On Patrol with Texas Department of Public Safety. We’ll learn about typical operations for the organization’s hiring standards, and the variety of calls its 25 helicopters encounter in 23,000 flight hours a year.

 

Author

  • Jen Boyer is a 20-year journalism and public relations professional in the aviation industry, having worked for flight schools, OEMs, and operators. She holds a rotorcraft commercial instrument license with CFI and CFII ratings. Jen now runs her own public relations and communications firm.

Jen Boyer

Jen Boyer

Jen Boyer is a 20-year journalism and public relations professional in the aviation industry, having worked for flight schools, OEMs, and operators. She holds a rotorcraft commercial instrument license with CFI and CFII ratings. Jen now runs her own public relations and communications firm.

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