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Is flying a helicopter more dangerous than an airplane?

Updated: May 23

Does a helicopter pilot have a more dangerous job than a fixed wing pilot? Since helicopters are generally harder to fly than airplanes, they also are more dangerous to fly.

This is mainly because a helicopter pilot has many things to control like the joystick that moves the helicopter forward and backward, the collective control that moves it up and down, anti-torque pedals that turns the nose horizontally and the throttle which powers the engine. That’s not to mention all of the other things that need to be monitored, such as terrain, weather, air traffic and flight panel gauges.

Helicopters have considerably more critical moving parts than fixed wing aircraft, including a main rotor, tail rotor, gearbox, flight controllers, landing gear and a drive shaft that runs the entire length of the chopper. These parts experience almost constant wear and tear, which increases the potential for malfunction. A single defectively designed or manufactured part may also result in a malfunction. In such cases, it is difficult even for an experienced pilot to maintain or regain control of the chopper and avoid crashing

According to some of the most recent data from the National Transit Safety Board (NTSB), the rate of accidents during instructional flights, when pilots are just learning, is twice as high for helicopters as for airplanes: 12.69 accidents per 100,000 hours versus 6.08 accidents per 100,000 hours.