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Helicopter safety in 2020: how safe is it to travel by air?

After the recent tragic helicopter accident involving Kobe Bryant as well as Leicester City's beloved owner in 2018, how safe are helicopters in 2020?


The recent fatal accident involving the Basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter among others has raised renewed concern about the safety of helicopters. In fact, this is not the first high-profile occurrence. In 2018, the owner of Leicester City football club also tragically died in a helicopter accident outside the stadium. How safe are helicopters in 2020?

How frequent are helicopter accidents?

Every now and then, we come across news regarding a helicopter accident. This creates an impression that it is a more regular occurence. While this assumption is not entirely based on facts, it also can’t be ignored entirely.

According to the International Helicopter Safety Team, there were 43 accidents in 2017 within Europe, 11 of them fatal. The IHST recorded another 52, 84, 98, and 103 helicopter accidents in 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013 respectively. As the stats show, the numbers of accidents involving helicopters seem to be decreasing. The European Helicopter Safety Team (EHST) also confirms this trend. According to EHST, the number of helicopter accidents has decreased from 311 between 2000 and 2005, to 162 in the following five years (2006 – 2010).
However, when you consider that the number of all types of helicopters registered in the UK stands at just 1,283, the number of accidents seems to be far higher.

Is helicopter safety worse than on planes?

According to the FAA, the rate of fatal accidents in all aviation types in the US stands at 0.84 per 100,000 flight hours. The number rises to 1.02 when only helicopters are considered. This statistic, of course, paints helicopters in a bad light. However, helicopters are often used in rescue missions amidst natural disasters as well as rescue missions and the like. When considering this difference, the frequency of accidents is marginally higher than that of planes.

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