'Fifty-Six Seconds To Live'

 - February 11, 2021, 10:56 AM
(Photo: from USHST video)

A new safety video from the U.S. Helicopter Safety Team (USHST), entitled 56 Seconds To Live, was released days after the NTSB issued its probable cause finding in the helicopter crash that killed Kobe Bryant and eight others last January. According to the NTSB, the crash resulted after the pilot inadvertently entered instrument meteorological conditions and experienced spatial disorientation.

“U.S. accident statistics reveal that a helicopter pilot operating under visual flight rules who unintentionally continues flight into IMC will very likely lose control of their aircraft and be dead within an average of 56 seconds,” according to Nick Mayhew, USHST industry co-chair. “We must join industry stakeholders to do everything we can to reverse this alarming and unacceptable trend.”

The 56-second time period is based on a USHST study of 221 fatal helicopter accidents that occurred from 2009 to 2019, and the video offers a graphic depiction of how those 56 seconds feel to a desperate helicopter pilot. Unintentional IMC was one of the top causes in 38 of the accidents. 

Concurrent with the video release, the USHST announced a 56 Seconds to Live course, available April 15 on the USHST website. Pilots will be able to complete the free learning management system (LMS) course, which emphasizes critical aeronautical decision-making moments and qualifies for FAA Safety Team (FAAST) credit.