With the tragedy of the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash still fresh in our minds, it’s natural to feel uncertain about helicopter travel. With thousands of flights each day, some accidents are expected. Still, recent events and statistics have some asking whether helicopters might be riskier than we realize. Has helicopter safety fallen to the wayside?

Helicopter Safety Statistics: How Common Are Crashes?

As aviation consultant John Goglia puts it, “[helicopters are] safe enough so that when one of these events happens, it’s a major story.”¹ Accidents do happen, though, and fatal crashes have been increasing.

Data from the U.S. Helicopter Safety Team (USHST) show that the total accident rate per 100,000 flight hours decreased slightly from 3.67 in 2015 to 3.62 in 2018. However, the fatal accident rate per 100,000 flight hours increased from 0.52 in 2015 to 0.72 in 2018. Not only did the rate increase, but so did the total number of fatalities. Private flights saw an especially large increase.³

How Do They Compare to Other Modes of Transportation?

Accident reports show that helicopters have more fatalities than planes or trains, but fewer than cars.⁴ Unfortunately, the modes of transportation are so different that it’s hard to make a fair comparison with the information we have. For example, helicopters are often used specifically for risky missions. This may skew the overall data.

How Helicopter Accidents Happen

Factors that may play a role in a helicopter crash include (but are not limited to):

  • Interference from things like power lines and buildings while flying at a low altitude
  • Poor visibility conditions
  • Mechanical malfunction
  • Risky low-altitude maneuvers
  • Poor pilot ability

Many helicopter accidents are preventable. If a company cuts corners on maintenance, the equipment may be more susceptible to failure. If safety is taken lightly and risks are ignored, minor mistakes can become fatal. Helicopters can be safe as long as the people involved take proper care and use reasonable judgment.

view of helicopter cockpit

In the crash that killed Kobe Bryant, bad visibility was a significant factor. Earlier that day, the L.A. police had grounded their helicopters due to conditions. The risks were clearly recognizable by the police, so why did the private company decide to fly? That question led Vanessa Bryant and her attorneys to file a wrongful death lawsuit.⁵

By empowering victims of preventable crashes to take legal action, we can hold helicopter operators accountable and push them to improve their safety standards.

Have You Been Injured in a Helicopter Accident? We Can Help

If you were left struggling after a helicopter crash injury, get in touch with a Texas personal injury lawyer at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers. In a free initial consultation, we’ll discuss your situation and determine whether you have a case for a personal injury lawsuit. If you do, we’ll help you build your case, file the paperwork, and fight on your behalf to get you the compensation you deserve.

Call (713) 364-0723 to talk to a personal injury lawyer in Texas today.


  1. https://www.afar.com/magazine/how-safe-are-helicopters
  2. https://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/general-aviation/2019-03-05/fatal-helicopter-accident-rate-climbing
  3. https://qz.com/1791791/helicopter-crashes-like-kobe-bryants-have-become-more-common/
  4. https://thepointsguy.com/news/are-helicopters-safe-how-they-stack-up-against-planes-cars-and-trains/