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Top 8 Safety Tips for Helicopter Pilots

Top 8 Safety Tips for Helicopter Pilots

Helicopter pilots are in high demand around the world. Believe it or not, there are only around 15,000 helicopter pilots licensed in the US.

More importantly, skilled helicopter pilots who are safety-oriented, thorough, and motivated are even more in-demand. As an insurance producer, you can help these pilots reach for the skies in their careers by sharing these 8 safety tips.

Top 8 Safety Tips for Helicopter Pilots

Let’s talk about some important safety tips for helicopter pilots that you can share with your clients!

1. Develop a Pre-Departure Checklist

Once you have a checklist, offer it to clients and have them keep it everywhere, and have backups available. Even if they memorize it, they have a hard copy in their cockpit and store pictures and lists on their phones so they’ll never miss it.

By offering multiple digital and hardcopy options to your clients, you’ll maximize their safety with each flight. Before every takeoff, pilots should review this list and ensure that everything is safe for takeoff.

This list should include:

  • Weather on the route
  • Fuel levels
  • Safety equipment
  • Computer monitor
  • Required documentation
  • Communication devices

The list goes on. Everything necessary for a smooth, secure flight should be involved in a pre-departure checklist.

Also, pilots can run the IMSAFE checklist for personal risk assessment. Pilots should review the elements of IMSAFE to make sure they are fit to fly: illness, medications that may interfere, stress, alcohol consumption, fatigue, and emotion. If any of these are a concern, flights should be delayed, canceled, or taken over by another pilot.

Most importantly, this has to happen every time they operate, even after a small stop. While flying, you may not notice if something happens to the helicopter or any gear, so even if a stop lasts for 10 minutes, it’s important for the pilot to exit the helicopter and run through their inspections.

2. Adopt the “Better Safe Than Sorry” Mindset

Pilots should quickly learn to not take risks in poor weather conditions or during any potential issue that may arise that could make the flight less safe. That includes the pilot, the helicopter, safety equipment, or external factors.

When pilots learn to operate with this mindset, their risks of a potential incident reduce dramatically. Consequently, this should be taught in every helicopter pilot school.

3. Don’t Cruise Too Low

To avoid wires, trees, and other obstacles, helicopter pilots should always fly above 1,000 feet for safety. Even if the tallest structure in their area is 400-feet, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

This is especially important in poor weather conditions or with low visibility. Pilots of all skill levels and experiential backgrounds should be wary of flying lower than 1,000 feet, even for short periods.

If a specific mission requires a pilot to fly lower than 1,000 feet, especially for longer durations, the helicopter should be equipped with a wire strike protection system (WSPS).

4. Always Consider the Mission

Planning ahead while on the ground is very important for safety. If it’s a training mission, then more liberties can be taken.

However, if they are traveling to a specific destination within a designated time frame, then pilots need to think ahead about the best and safest possible route. Moreover, this includes altitude, speed, and weather conditions, and they should be considered every time before each flight.

5. Don’t React

When something happens, limit your reaction as best as possible. For example, we’ve all experienced someone talking to us while we are trying to focus and given a delayed response.

As a pilot, that’s perfectly appropriate. Understanding what the tasks are at hand, prioritizing them, and focusing is critical for safety. When distractions arise, it’s okay to respond to them, but don’t react.

Developing the ability to make appropriate decisions while under pressure is what makes a good pilot. Weather, outside distractions, people aboard, and other factors can put pressure on seasoned pilots, but the job doesn’t stop being life-or-death when those arise.

6. Talk With Other Pilots

Pilots should share their experiences with others and learn from others’ experiences. The more they do, the more well-rounded and prepared they will be for any scenario.

Safety education never stops, and pilots are some of the best resources for safety in the field.

7. Avoid Complacency

There are many jobs where confident, long-term workers can get away with complacency. If you work in an office, then it’s easy to just go through the motions and take some liberties.

However, when somebody flying thousands of feet in the air with various passengers and cargo, it’s a completely different story.

Being a pilot doesn’t mean taking a course and forgetting about it. Every pilot should open their manuals periodically and refresh themselves on various practices, even if they are certain they have everything down.

Codes of conduct, standard operating procedures, and laws need to be fresh in every pilot’s memory to ensure a safe flight every time. Also, certain laws can often change, so when pilots are updating themselves about new ones, it doesn’t hurt to refresh themselves on everything else.

Remember, it only takes one mistake. When dealing with such a consequential line of work, complacency is the enemy, and the overlearning process is essential.

8. Have Pilot Liability Insurance

Lastly, pilots shouldn’t have to worry about having their jobs or personal assets in danger if they are following all of these safety tips.

You can prepare for the worst but you can’t plan for everything, so pilots need coverage for the worst-case scenarios. No matter where you are in the US, we’re here to offer pilot insurance for all your needs!

Share These Safety Tips for Helicopter Pilots

Now that you have a list of helpful safety tips for helicopter pilots, share them with your clients to ensure long-term safety for everybody. Flying is the safest mode of transportation we have, but that’s only because of all of these necessary precautions.

Stay up to date with our latest pilot tips and flight safety, and feel free to contact us with any questions!

Last updated 8/23/22


rick lindseyAuthored by Rick J. Lindsey, CEO, President, and Chairman of Prime Insurance Company

Rick J. Lindsey hails from Salt Lake City, Utah. He began working in the mailroom of his father’s Salt Lake City insurance firm, getting his introduction to the business that became his lifelong career. Lindsey quickly rose through the ranks while working in nearly every imaginable insurance industry job. As an entrepreneur, specialty lines underwriter, claims specialist, risk manager, and a licensed surplus lines broker, Rick Lindsey is highly skilled in all levels of leadership and execution. As he progressed on his career path, Rick discovered an urgent need for insurers willing to write policies for high-risk individuals and businesses. He was frequently frustrated that he could not provide the liability protection these entities desperately needed to safeguard their assets. He also formed the belief that insurance companies acted too quickly to settle frivolous claims. Lindsey decided to try a different approach. He started an insurance company and became the newly formed entity’s CEO. This opportunity has enabled Rick to fill a void in the market and provide a valuable service to businesses, individuals, and insurance agents who write high-risk business. Prime Insurance also specializes in helping individuals and businesses who live a lifestyle or participate in activities that make them difficult for traditional carriers to insure. If you’ve been denied, non-renewed, or canceled coverage, don’t give up quite yet. Chances are Prime Insurance can help.

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