Helicopter tours: How Safe Are They?

by fstrack | August 10th, 2009

With the latest tragedy over the Hudson River, people are starting to ask if it is safe to book a helicopter or plan tour when on vacation.  During the past two years fatal helicopter and plane tours have been on the rise.   USA Today reported “The crash is at least the 14th involving a chartered sightseeing flight since 2000, according to NTSB records. Including Saturday’s collision, the accidents have killed 61 people. ”

Peter Goelz, former managing director the for NTSB safety board said, “There is nothing particularly complex in the majority of the accidents. They fall back on pilot errors. Flying too close to another aircraft. Flying in weather they shouldn’t be flying in. These are all completely avoidable accidents.”

For your safety ask the tour company the following questions:

  • Are they FAA “Part 135″ certified. –  This is the strongest regulation on safety rules and a must when booking your next tour.
  • How is the maintenance performed on the tour fleet
  • What is the experience of the pilot and is there any special pilot training for the flight you are taking?
  • Is the flight plan is registered?
  • The type of safety equipment on the helicopter/plane.

While clear weather would give you maximum enjoyment, small plans and helicopters are sensitive to weather conditions and you may not wish to fly in strong winds or thunderstorms.

Using caution and asking questions when booking a tour can make your tour an enjoyable and safe event!