U.S. Naval helicopter mishaps: cockpit egress problems.Aviat Space Environ Med. 1996 May; 67(5):480-5.AS
A number of potential problems are associated with egress from the helicopter cockpit in the post-crash phase of a mishap. The purpose of this study was to identify the egress problems experienced by pilots in U.S. Navy/Marine Corp helicopter cockpits, and to propose a priority of preventive interventions.
Using Naval Safety Center data, we reviewed 1980-94 Class A helicopter mishap narratives. We identified and categorized cockpit egress problems reported by pilots. The data are described in terms of problem category, helicopter type, crash terrain, and time of day.
Of the 210 survivable mishaps, 289 egress problems were reported in 128 mishaps, 61% involved aircrew factors, 16% environmental factors, 12% were related to helicopter factors, and 11% to cockpit factors. Of the 128 mishaps, 67.5% occurred during daytime, 32.5% at night, 64% in overwater crashes, 26% over land, and 10% over flight decks. The most significant, but uncommon, injuries involved the "stroking seat."
Egress hazards can be minimized by the implementation of more intensive underwater egress training, crashworthy fuel systems, better design of cockpit exits and hatches, better restraint systems, better crashworthy seats, underwater visual aids, and more streamlined personal equipment. Engineering validation is needed before committing to suggested interventions.