Case-control study of risk factors for fatal and non-fatal injury in crashes of rotary-wing aircraft
Introduction: There have been few studies of the risk factors for fatal injury in air crashes of rotary-wing aircraft, and none of risk factors for all serious injury (fatal and non-fatal) in these aircraft. The aim of the study was to identify the potentially modifiable risk factors for injury in civil rotary-wing aircraft crashes in New Zealand. Method: We analyzed records from all reported civil rotary-wing aircraft crashes in New Zealand between 1988 and 1994. Air crash data from the official databases were merged with nationwide injury records and information obtained from Coroner's files. Crashes where the pilot-in-command was fatally injured were compared with crashes where the pilot-incommand was not fatally injured on 50 variables, covering pilot, aircraft, environmental, and operational characteristics. A second analysis compared crashes where the pilot-in-command was seriously injured (either fatally or non-fatally) with crashes where the pilot-in-command was not hospitalized with an injury. A series of multivariate logistic regression analyses were conducted to estimate the odds associated with each of the factors identified by the univariate analyses. Results: The most significant risk factors for all serious injury were: (a) not obtaining a weather briefing, (b) off-airport location of the crash site, (c) flights carried out for air transport purposes, and (d) non-solo flights. Other risk factors, significant for fatal injury only, included post-crash fire and the nature of the crash terrain. Factors within the control of the pilot, environmental, and flight characteristics are the key determinants of the injury outcome of civil rotary-wing aircraft crashes.
Journal of Safety Research