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Getting to Know VAST / USHST

Posted 1 years 5 days ago ago by Admin

By Chris Baur

I recently assumed the USHST Industry Co-Chair position from Nick Mayhew, who has provided many significant contributions during his tenure.  I want to take this opportunity to share my thoughts and objectives in my new role. But first, a look back at the journey.  I first became involved with the IHST International Helicopter Safety Team in 2010.  As a helicopter pilot with an airline background, I saw an opportunity to provide different aspects of safety, training, navigation and human factors to the vertical flight community.  Not everything will translate, but many aspects do, such as evidence & scenario-based training, flight training devices, electronic flight bags and performance based navigation (PBN). At the onset, some of this seemed foreign, but is clearly recognizable today. Also, over time, the International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST) became the Vertical Aviation Safety Team (VAST) and the U.S. Helicopter Safety Team (USHST) is now a regional organization in the global VAST organization.  I have worked with the USHST’s Infrastructure Working Group, particularly on COPTER IFR/PBN, and we’ve seen important, transformative changes. 

That’s  a bunch of acronyms…how can I get involved? 

It is the goal of the U.S. Helicopter Safety Team, to be a non-commercial resource of:

  • Information

  • Safety Tools 

  • Statistical data 

  • Safety Initiatives 

  • Safety Advocacy  

How familiar are you with the U.S. Helicopter Safety Team and its work promoting safety in the vertical community? There will be a link at the end of this article to the USHST/VAST, and I encourage you to visit. If you have not had an opportunity to take the course “56 Seconds to Live” please do.  It is approximately an hour of your time and regardless of your aircraft or experience level it is worth your time!  (You will also receive Wings Credit). 

Are you familiar with the USHST’s library of Helicopter Safety Enhancement (HSEs)?  There is a library of HSEs, think of them as easy to digest white papers on a subject, such as spatial disorientation, with discussions, links to media content, and take aways for your flight bag. They are developed by a diversified field of subject matter experts from both government and industry. The HSEs are unique in they have appeal to flight instructors, seasoned pilots, students, and operators—large and small.  The most recent HSEs are described below or you can find the library here.

  • H-127A Spatial Disorientation Induced by a Degraded Visual Environment: Training and Decision-Making Solutions – Recommended Practice

  • H-SE 81 Improve Simulator Modeling for Outside-the-Envelope Flight Conditions

  • H-SE 91 Enhanced Helicopter Vision Systems

  • H-SE 116 Helicopter Make and Model Transition and Differences

  • H-SE 125 Preflight Risk Assessment for Student Flights – Recommended Practice

Most recently, together with our partners at HAI, the USHST was invited to a safety summit along with other aviation industry leaders.  We advocated to senior FAA leadership to increase the funding of the FAA’s weather camera system, along with advisory weather, expanding the program throughout the contiguous 48 states.  

The USHST will be soliciting your feedback in an upcoming survey, to better understand how we can serve you better, as we seek to develop new tools and expanded services.  The USHST is composed of volunteers from across the industry, and we are seeking a diversity of talent from our industry who are interested in participating. In our upcoming survey there will be an opportunity to volunteer.

Collectively, we can all make a meaningful impact on safety, in things both big and small.  I am excited to have the opportunity to work with you in eliminating accidents and experiencing the joy, excitement, and satisfaction  of vertical flight.    

The Vertical Aviation Safety Team (VAST), US Helicopter Safety Team (USHST), and several regional safety teams offer valuable information and resources. Finally, readers can view the “56-Seconds to Live” YouTube video and complete the companion Training Course that helps pilots understand the hazards and consequences of continued VFR flight into IMC and offers them the tools they need to avoid becoming the next fatal accident victim.

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