The tragic death of Kobe Bryant and 8 others in a helicopter accident has left many business owners wondering if helicopters are as safe as they once thought. There are risks with any mode of transportation. In fact, according to the Business Insider, the odds of you or anyone else dying mid-flight is "exceedingly low". You are more likely to get injured in a car accident. So, what questions do you need to ask to protect yourself before climbing aboard? Read on.
1. Single or Dual Engine: Ask whether the helicopter you will be flying in is a single engine or dual engine helicopter. While dual engines are more expensive to purchase and approximately 30 percent more expensive to operate, they are also marginally safer. If one engine has a mechanical failure en route, the second engine could buy the pilot enough time to make a safe landing. It is also helpful to have a dual engine aircraft when traversing mountainous areas, like the part of California that Kobe Bryant was flying over when the accident occurred.
2. Safety Record: Inquire about the safety record of the helicopter you will be traveling in. Any reputable company will share safety information on both the helicopter that you will be flying in as well as for the company as a whole. The information should include reports of any past accidents, a detailed flight log, and all maintenance records. The FAA has strict guidelines for helicopter service and inspections and the paperwork should all be readily available for your inspection as well. Typically, helicopters are serviced every 100 hours of flight and have a complete inspection annually.
3. Pilot's Record: Again, a reputable company has no issue with providing you information about the pilot and their flight history. It may be off-putting or even embarrassing to ask such a question, but it is nonetheless a fair question when you will be putting your life as well as the lives of your co-workers in their hands. You want a pilot (and co-pilot, if applicable) who has not only numerous flight hours on the type of helicopter that you are traveling in but also experience flying other aircraft. Years of military service or time spent as a commercial pilot also reveal a pilot's level of skill and expertise.
4. Weather Report: While you can check your smartphone to see the current temperature, a flight crew looks at a more detailed weather report. Heavy fog can be a problem that requires pilots to fly low in order to get underneath the fog and improve their visibility. This can put you in an unnecessarily risky situation. If it's foggy, you can choose not to fly. Likewise, heavy rain, snow, and even ice can give even the most experienced pilots reason for pause.
5. Age of Helicopter: While you may turn your car in to the dealership every two years for a newer model, helicopters and airplanes are used for much longer. Ask your helicopter service how old the helicopter is as well as the make and model. Do a little digging before you fly to understand the history of the helicopter you will be in. If it is an unsafe model, you will be able to read up on it online, much like the recent history of Boeing's ill-fated 737 Max.
Helicopters are a safe way to travel. They help you avoid rush hour traffic and commute further distances to the office or an important meeting than you could by car. Asking the above questions is not only fair, but it is also important for your overall safety. For more information, contact a helicopter service.