"This study raises concern about the safety of helicopter flights related to oil and gas operations in the Gulf of Mexico, particularly during bad weather," said Susan P. Baker, MPH, professor with the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy and the paper's lead author. "Our findings suggest that efforts to reduce crashes and deaths must address mechanical failure, non-activation of flotation devices, and pilot error." Baker is a licensed private pilot and received the Aerospace Medical Association's Harry G. Moseley Award in 2010 for her work applying the public health model to aviation safety.
The researchers also examined crash trends over the study time period and found an increase in the most recent time period, 8.2 annually during 2000 to 2009 versus 5.6 during 1983 to 1999. Following 2007, however, the researchers measured a decrease in crashes.
"While the apparent deterioration in safety over time is alarming, I am encouraged by the most recent data," said Baker. "Only time will tell whether this is a temporary statistical blip or the beginning of a positive trend."
|Contact: Tim Parsons|
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health