International Helicopter Safety Team

International Helicopter Safety Team

International Helicopter Safety Foundation (IHSF)

Vertical Aviation Safety Team (VAST)

Background, goal and methods

The International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST) was established following the International Helicopter Safety Symposium (IHSS) held in September 2005 in Montreal, Canada, where the central theme was the recognition that long term helicopter accident rates have remained unacceptably high and trends have not shown significant improvement over the last 20 years. A call to action was unanimously accepted by those in attendance at IHSS 2005.

The IHST was created to lead a government and industry cooperative effort to address the unacceptably high long-term helicopter accident rates. The IHST chose to pursue the goal of reducing the worldwide civil and military helicopter accident rates by 80% in 10 years by adopting the methods that have been used by the Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST) to substantially reduce the worldwide fatal accident rate in the commercial air carrier community. The process used by CAST was directly linked to real accident data, used a broad spectrum of industry experts to analyse it and included objective success measurements to ensure that the actions taken were having the desired effect.

Accordingly, the IHST chartered the Joint Helicopter Safety Analysis Team (JHSAT) to adapt the CAST process to analyse helicopter accident data and to offer recommendations for reducing the accident rate. The IHST also chartered the Joint Helicopter Safety Implementation Team (JHSIT) to assess the JHSATs’ recommendations and to develop detailed implementation plans for the safety enhancements deemed to have the greatest potential benefit. Industry helicopter safety experts representing operators, airframe and engine manufacturers, and regulators comprise both the JHSAT and the JHSIT.

Adaptation of the CAST process involved changes to ensure that data unique to the helicopter community could be effectively analyzed. However, the basic tenants of the CAST process were preserved: the analyses would be performed by stakeholders, results would be data driven and measurable.


The all-volunteer IHST effort is coordinated by an Executive Committee which is Co-Chaired by a senior representative of the US FAA’s Rotorcraft Directorate and by the President of the Helicopter Association International (HAI). Other members represent America Helicopter Society (AHS) International, Helicopter Association of Canada (HAC), the European Helicopter Association, the European Helicopter Safety Team (EHEST), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), helicopter manufacturers, and the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers(OGP).

The initial effort focused on the US helicopter fleet and has grown to encompass international partners in Brazil, Canada, India, Australia, Gulf Cooperative Council, and Japan. In addition EHEST joined in 2007 to cover European helicopter fleet. Outreach efforts are underway in Russia, Mexico, South Africa and Korea.

A summary of of IHST's recommendations for small operators is posted on HAI's website and can be reached here.

International Helicopter Safety Foundation (IHSF)

In February 2019, IHST announced that it was changing its name to the International Helicopter Safety Foundation. In making the announcement, the organisation said that it had been incorporated as a not-for-profit foundation "because it has developed a permanent safety role within the worldwide helicopter industry. The aim of IHSF leadership is to continue that role into the future and to continue to support regional safety efforts around the world."

Cooperating entities of the IHSF include the U.S. Helicopter Safety Team, the European Safety Promotion Network-Rotorcraft, the Brazil Helicopter Safety Team, the Asia-Pacific Helicopter Safety Team, the Russian Helicopter Industry Association, and other organizations focused on helicopter safety.

In 2021, IHSF was rebranded as the Vertical Aviation Safety Team (VAST)

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