Helicopter Accident Investigation

A Safety Management Systems (SMS) Certificate Course

Helicopter accidents provide many new challenges for the investigator principally because of the dynamic factors involved in helicopter performance. Knowledge and experience in fixed wing aircraft accident investigation does provide a basic reference since most systems found on helicopters are similar to those found on fixed wing aircraft. There are however some very distinct differences. Most unique are the rotor systems and the aerodynamics of rotary wing flight. These are the focuses of the Helicopter Accident Investigation Course. The course assumes a basic knowledge of aircraft accident investigation. The instruction leads you through examples of the unique aspects of helicopter operations. There is a discussion of helicopter aerodynamics as they relate to accidents. You will learn about Ground Resonance and Dynamic Rollover. You will be introduced to the problems of Settling Under Power and Vortex Rings.

You will also learn to identify some of the inflight problems associated with transmission and rotor failures. These include actual examples of Mast Bumping and Tail Rotor Failure. You will learn about the importance of crash survivability investigation in helicopter accidents and the specific areas of concern.

One aviation safety expert has asserted that: “All (helicopter) problems are pilot related. Even engine failure, rotor failure and various types of airframe failure can be traced to lack of knowledge of design limitations.” This course will look at the human factors aspects of rotary wing flight and expose you to several of the important human errors that have resulted in helicopter accidents.

Although this course is about helicopters, knowledge and experience in helicopters is not necessary to take the course. Any one will benefit by taking this course from the novice who gains an introduction to the unique problems of helicopter operations to the expert for an update on modern helicopter issues. Helicopter Accident Investigation gives any investigator a valuable addition to his or her professional knowledge and qualifications.

Who Should Attend

This course is for individuals who will be involved in rotary wing accident investigations in any capacity and assumes that the attendee has either experience in accident investigation or has completed a course such as SCSI’s Aircraft Accident Investigation (AAI) course.

How You Will Benefit

  • The course focuses solely on the investigation of rotary wing accidents. It will extend your knowledge of investigation tools and techniques by providing specific information you will need to understand the unique requirements for rotary wing accident investigation.
  • You will gain an understanding of the special aspects of rotary wing investigations, become familiar with the unique design aspects and failure modes for helicopter structures, engines, transmissions and rotors, control systems and other systems
  • You will become familiar with the special problems presented by helicopter aerodynamics and performance issues
  • You will become aware of some of the human factors issues that impact helicopter accidents
  • You will be able to participate effectively in a helicopter accident investigation
  • This course is accepted by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals for Continuance of Certification credit. It is one of the required courses for the Certificate in Aircraft Accident Investigation granted by SCSI. SCSI will award 3.6 CEUs to each participant who successfully completes this course.

Course Topics

  • Helicopter Investigation Differences
  • Helicopter Structures
  • Rotary Wing Control Systems
  • Helicopter Systems
  • Engines
  • Transmissions and Rotors
  • Rotary Wing Aerodynamics and Performance
  • Helicopter Recording Devices
  • Rotary Wing Accidents and Human Factors
  • Initial Actions at the Crash Scene
  • Wreckage Recovery/Reconstruction/Diagram
  • Failure Investigation
  • Helicopter Unique Mishaps
  • Crash Survivability
  • Seven Phases of Investigation

Course Administration

The Helicopter Accident Investigation Course consists of 4.5 training days (36 hours of classroom instruction). Students will also spend time in the SCSI Crash Lab for Hands-on time investigating a helicopter crash exhibit. Students receive lecture outlines additional reference material and a Certificate of Completion. Classes begin daily at 0800 and end at noon on the final day. This course is one of the electives in the SCSI Certificate in Aircraft Accident Investigation

Typical Comments from Attendees

  • Great course for an “introduction” into crash investigation.
  • The instructor is an expert in flying helicopters and was effective in the rotor dynamics causes and effects.