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How safe are the helicopter tours?

Helicopter tours continue to be incredibly popular among the tourists. Each year there are an estimated 800,000 people fly over the Grand Canyon only in helicopters and fixed wing aircrafts.

(iStock)

A helicopter tour of the execution of six people crashed in New York’s East River on Sunday, killing five. Last month, a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon turned out to be deadly if it caught fire and crashed in the canyon. Five of the seven on board died, either at the scene or in the hospital.

For the past 15 years, the sector has been plagued by accidents. However, helicopter tours are continue to incredibly popular among the tourists. Each year there are an estimated 800,000 people fly over the Grand Canyon only in helicopters and fixed wing aircrafts.

So, how dangerous are the helicopter tours?

According to the statistics shared with Fox News by a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), helicopter accidents were lower than in previous years. In 2016, there were 106 accidents, 17 of them were fatal. In 2015, there were 121 helicopter accidents, with 17 also reported as fatal.

In a document released by the United States Helicopter Safety Team, the data shows that the accidents in 2017 from previous years. However, provisional figures show that the incidence increased.

“Accidents with the U.S. civil helicopter industry flattened during 2017, but remained well below accident totals of three and four years ago. Preliminary data indicate that the 2017 accident was 3.55 per 100,000 flight hours, in comparison with an accident, in 2016, of 3.45. This 3 percent increase was the result of a few months in 2017 with unusually high accident totals – – 18 accidents in February and 23 accidents in July,” the document reads.

In 2017, 121 accidents have been reported, 20 of them fatal accidents that resulted in 34 total fatalities.

“Compared with four years ago, however, the number of accidents has been cut by a third. The fatal accident rate also increased slightly year-on-year, but remained lower than the 2017 objective of the United States Helicopter Safety Team,” the document concluded.

Statistically, helicopter fatality rates have improved since a high in 2013, which saw 62 deaths of 146 reported helicopter accidents.

(iStock)

Statistically, helicopter fatality rates have improved since a high in 2013, which saw 62 deaths of 146 reported helicopter accidents. Although, it was still an improvement over 2006, where previously worldwide civil helicopters were to be seen on an accident rises by 2.5 percent per year, before the new rules were introduced.

Although, there is still a way to go to the private helicopter sector to be as safe as commercial flights. The FAA is tackling the problem by educating the civilian helicopter community on the safe practices and take an active role in the promotion of safety by means of new technology, collaboration, policy changes and proactive assistance,” a spokesman of the FAA shared.

Newer helicopters have reported less problems – almost all fatal accidents are caused by faulty equipment or pilot error, according to the Washington Post. Inexperienced pilots blamed for helicopter collisions, Pix11 reports.

The FAA is reportedly working with helicopter industry representatives to ensure new manufactured helicopters “can help prevent injuries, post-crash fire and the catastrophic consequences of the bird-strikes… in addition, the FAA will need in 2014, that certain ( 135) commercial helicopter operators, including air ambulance and air taxi’s, to have stricter flight rules and procedures, improved communications, training, and additional onboard safety equipment,” a spokesperson from the FAA told Fox News.

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However, even though helicopter technology to improve and the agencies of the government is more proactive about safety, there is still a risk with a non-commercial flight, and especially the tours that can’t be controlled and can be overcrowded.

Michael Barr of the University of Southern California aviation Safety Program, told ABC 11 of the potential hazards, “They are going to fly in an area where there are other planes, and that their level of risks between the aircraft and flying in a city where your vacation is on a commercial airline … the risk of a tour is going to be greater.”

Alexandra Deabler is a Lifestyle writer and editor for Fox News.

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