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FAA Rotorcraft Monthly Accident Briefing - September/End of FY19

Updated: Mar 10

Monthly Summary

September Totals: 7 accidents, 0 fatal accidents, 0 fatalities

-The September accident count was the lowest for any September on record since FY83.

-This was first time for a September where the accident count was less than 10 events.

-Only 1 industry sector had more than 1 accident during the month (Aerial Application had 2).

-Zero fatal accidents in September last occurred 23 FYs ago and has only occurred 3 times in the last 37 FYs (FY88, FY96, FY19).

FY19 Final Summary

Totals: 118 accidents, 24 fatal accidents, 50 fatalities


-The estimated accident rate for FY19 was 3.35 per 100K flight hours, the lowest among the last 10 FYs.

-For comparison purposes, FY19s accident rate was:

--About 8% lower than FY18’s rate of 3.65.

--About 6% lower than the previous lowest rate from FY10-FY19 (3.58 was the previous low, observed in both FY15 and FY17.).

--About 18% lower than the previous 10-year average for FY09-FY18 (4.12). FY19’s rate was also more than 1 standard deviation below the FY09-FY18 average.

-The FY19 accident count of 118 tied with FYs 15 & 16 for the lowest count in the last 37 FYs.

-The following were accidents by certification basis.

--Part 27: 86% of accidents (Part 27 rotorcraft are 80% of the U.S. rotorcraft fleet)

--Part 29: 6% of accidents (Part 29 rotorcraft are 10% of the U.S. rotorcraft fleet)

--Restricted Category: 8% of accidents (Restricted category rotorcraft are 10% of the U.S. rotorcraft fleet)

Fatal Accidents:

-The estimated fatal accident rate for FY19 was 0.68 per 100K flight hours, the 3rd highest in the last 10 FYs and minimally different from FY18 (0.67).

-The following were fatal accidents by certification basis.

--Part 27: 88% of fatal accidents (Part 27 rotorcraft are 80% of the U.S. rotorcraft fleet)

--Part 29: 4% of fatal accidents (Part 29 rotorcraft are 10% of the U.S. rotorcraft fleet)

--Restricted Category: 8% of fatal accidents (Restricted category rotorcraft are 10% of the U.S. rotorcraft fleet)

-FY19’s fatal accident numbers were inconsistent from month to month throughout the year, with both positive and negative extremes.


-FY19 was the first time in 37 FYs where there were more than 3 months in the FY without a fatal accident. FY19 did not have any fatal accidents in December, February, August, and September.

-For the 37 FYs on record, FY19 was the first FY where there were not any fatal accidents in the consecutive months of August and September.

-FY19 had fewer fatal accidents in the last quarter of the FY (2 total in Jul, Aug, Sep) than any of the 37 FYs on record (previous low of 4 in both FY15 and FY17).

-There were 77 days between the last fatal accident (July 15) and the end of the FY on September 30. That was the longest period without a fatal accident within a FY since FY12 (February 15, 2012 – May 28, 2012).


-FY19 was the first time since FY13 when more than 1 month in the FY had more than 3 fatal accidents. November, March, and June each had 4 fatal accidents.

-The 4 months of Mar-Jun in FY19 had 13 fatal accidents, the highest number observed for those 4 consecutive months since FY03.

-FY19’s total fatal accident count of 24 was comparable to FY18’s total (23) and third highest in the past 10 years.

-The percentage of accidents with a fatality was 20%, second worst in the past 10 years and above the recent historical average of about 16%.


-The estimated fatality rate was 1.42 per 100K flight hours. This was comparable to FY18 (1.46). For the second consecutive year, the metric lagged the recent years of FY14-FY17 where the rate was between 0.87 and 1.02.

-Seven of the fatal accidents in FY19 had 3 or more fatalities. Of these 7 cases, 3 occurred where the helicopter was U.S. registered but the accident occurred outside the U.S. (2 in the Dominican Republic and 1 in the Bahamas).

Industry Sectors:

-Consistent with previous years, the industry sectors of Aerial Application (25), Personal/Private (24), and Instructional/Training (17) together accounted for over half of the total accidents (56% or 66/118). Each had individual accident totals that were well above the other individual industry sectors.

-Personal/Private had the highest number of fatal accidents (8), and 1/3 of the Personal/Private accidents that occurred had a fatality (8/24). This was the highest percentage among any of the 7 industry sectors that had 5 or more accidents.

Lee Roskop

Safety Management Section, AIR-682 Rotorcraft Standards Branch, Policy & Innovation Division 817-222-5337 lee.roskop@faa.gov

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