Safety Initiatives


Vertical Aviation Safety Team (VAST)

In 2005, the Vertical Flight Society's Montreal-Ottawa Chapter hosted the first International Helicopter Safety Symposium (IHSS). Subsequently, VFS worked with the Helicopter Association International (HAI), Transport Canada and the Federal Aviation Administration, EASA and many other agencies worldwide to create the International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST) — later the International Helicopter Safety Foundation (IHSF). VFS was the Secretariat for this international group and there were significant improvements in safety through the efforts of IHST. IHST's goal was to reduce the worldwide civil helicopter accident rate by 80% in 10 years.

The goal has not yet been achieved, but IHST has been incorporated into the non-profit Vertical Aviation Safety Team (VAST) and continues to work towards zero accidents and zero fatalities. Go to to find out how you can join in to help reduce helicopter accidents!

Safety Technology White Paper

In 2014, the European Safety Promotion Network Rotorcraft (ESPN-R) and the Netherlands Research Center (NLR) conducted a sweeping analysis of helicopter safety technologies and produced a report titled “The Potential of Technologies to Mitigate Helicopter Accident Factors”. This study analyzed 145 different safety technologies and created a matrix of these technologies integrated with Standard Problem Statements (SPS), Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) and relative cost of implementation. The top 15 technologies were labeled as “highly promising” based on their respective numerical scores on that matrix.

The United States Helicopter Safety Team (USHST) — with the support of the International Helicopter Safety Foundation (IHSF) — produced a set of Helicopter Safety Enhancements (HSEs) resulting in a separate list of technologies. And finally, EASA’s 2018 Rotorcraft Safety Roadmap expanded on the ESPN-R/NLR report, adding emphasis and reason to the mathematics of the study.

In summer 2020, the VAST (then IHSF) Technology Working Group developed a White Paper on Helicopter Safety Technology: Combined USHST and ESPN-R Helicopter Safety Technology Emphasis Items. The purpose of this paper was to extract and group the common technology elements and concepts in these various studies.

IHSS Proceedings: Technical papers and briefing charts from several years of International Helicopter Safety Symposium meetings are available to the public for free!

Drones: Are you an owner or operator of unmanned aircraft? Go to to be sure you fly safely!

Single Engine IFR: Read about the industry initiative to improve safety be allowing pilots of single-engine helicopters use their modern equipment in the event of less-than VFR conditions.

Military Safety: For a detailed analysis of military helicopter safety, read the paper, "Study on Rotorcraft Safety and Survivability," published at the VFS 66th Annual Forum, Phoenix, AZ, May 10-13, 2010. Also available is the comprehensive study "DoD Helicopter Mishaps FY85-05: Recommendations," By (then) Colonel Pete Mapes, USAF, MC, CFS. The study describes all 917 US DoD Class A-B Rotary Wing Mishaps from FY 85 to 05. It studied 957 lost or severely damaged aircraft and over 3,800+ people exposed to the mishap situations, based on data archived in the mishap files of the Service Safety Centers.

Historical Report: US Joint Helicopter Safety Analysis Team: Year 2000 Report, published in 2007, this is an excellent summary of the status prior to creation of the IHST and the state of understanding of accident causal factors. This report was edited by then Vertiflite magazine managing editor and current VFS Executive Director, Mike Hirschberg. 

Past Vertiflite Articles

Updated 2022-01-01