This is the EASA Together4Safety video of the year 2022 featuring Mathieu Vandenavenne, Safety for Flight, film director and actor, ESPN-R Training Team leader. This video reminds the importance of wearing a helmet to protect against birdstrike and other risks too.
Main messages for pilots and operators
Pilots and helicopter operators should understand the importance of wearing a helmet, particularly in single pilot operations.
Minimise injuries and keep flying after a birdstrike
A helmet is a key barrier to enable a pilot to keep flying the helicopter in the event of birdstrike. They also contribute greatly to reducing head injuries in the event of an accident. As an operator, you should consider the potential risk of birdstrike in your operation and use helmets as a key preventative barrier.
For protection and not to scare passengers
Wearing a helmet doesn’t mean that the pilot or the Company have a concern about the safety of the flight that would require the pilot of wearing such equipment. You should explain to passengers that they are a key part of the Company’s safety policy and they are worn to protect the pilot and keep them safe during the flight. Helmets show that the Company cares about safety.
Reducing glare and noise in flight
An additional benefit is that helmet visors reduce glare and make it easier to see in the sun. They also provide good noise reduction that makes it less tiring for the pilot and makes radio communication easier.
In the event of a birdstrike
Pilots won’t normally be able to anticipate and avoid a birdstrike in flight. This means wearing a helmet is an excellent preventative measure.
In case a bird penetrating the cockpit and hit your helmet, replace your blood-covered visor with a second visor to recover your field of view. Stabilise the situation, reduce air speed, declare an emergency to ATC, prepare the helicopter for an emergency landing and look after your passenger. Fly, Navigate and Communicate in that order.
Invite passengers to check their safety belt and remind them of the safety measures for an emergency landing.
After landing, shut down the engine and help your passengers, who may still be shocked. Call operations to explain the situation and arrange for alternative transport.
In case of birdstrike, wearing a helmet makes it more probable to safely land the helicopter.
The importance of having the right equipment to ensure a safe flight
Operators and pilots in command have the duty to manage and to continuously improve safety. Some equipment are designed to improve flight safety in different types of situations, whether it’s a commercial flight or a private flight. The most important is to take care of yourself and your passengers by implementing appropriate safety measures.
Are you properly equipped for the risks you will face in your next flight?
What protective equipment a private pilot wears is the personal choice of the pilot. However, you might also consider the wellbeing of your passengers. In commercial and specialised operations, pilots and managers have a duty of care responsibility towards their passengers and personnel, and they are encouraged to provide the most appropriate safety equipment possible.
More EASA and ESPN-R information on Birdstrike
More information on birdstrike risk management is provided in:
EASA Easy Access Rules for Small Rotorcraft (CS-27), no Birdstrike requirement.
EASA Easy Access Rules for Large Rotorcraft (CS-29), CS 29.631 Birdstrike: “The rotorcraft must be designed to assure capability of continued safe flight and landing (for Category A) or safe landing (for Category B) after impact with a 1 kg bird, when the velocity of the rotorcraft (relative to the bird along the flight path of the rotorcraft) is equal to VNE or VH (whichever is the lesser) at altitudes up to 2438 m (8 000 ft). Compliance must be shown by tests, or by analysis based on tests carried out on sufficiently representative structures of similar design.”