Helicopters can take off and land vertically, hover, and fly forwards, backwards and laterally. This makes them particularly beneficial for personal, corporate, military, medical, fire fighting and tourist uses.
These machines are both powerful and fragile. Helicopters are intricate and complex and they require the highest level of design, construction, maintenance and operational skill. However, when the highest level is not met and the conditions get risky, helicopters can prove dangerous.
Between 1990 and 2000, there were 2,211 helicopter accidents. Causes of helicopter crashes include: pilot error, design error, risk assessment error and maintenance error. Power lines, trees and poor weather conditions also add to the danger of flying helicopters.
Helicopters can also be dangerous on the ground. A propeller or rotor rotating under power, even at slow idling speed, has sufficient force to inflict serious injury. Tail rotors are particularly dangerous because they are at chest or head height. Always approach a helicopter from the front in a crouched position and wait for the pilot’s signal.
Medical helicopters suffer the most crashes due to poor safety technology, little oversight, and risky conditions. When it comes to saving lives, medical helicopters are very dangerous for the crew and patients. In fact, working onboard a medical helicopter is considered the most dangerous profession in America with a higher fatality rate than that of fishermen, loggers or steelworkers.