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Should you wear a helmet when flying helicopters?

Updated: Aug 24, 2023

To wear or not to wear a helicopter helmet?

There is a growing debate in the aviation community on whether or not helicopter pilots should be required to wear helmets. Some argue that helmets provide essential protection in case of an accident, while others believe they can interfere with the pilot's ability to fly safely.


We've looked at both sides of the debate and this is what we found out.



Debate for wearing a helmet when flying helicopters:


Wearing a helmet while flying a helicopter is an essential safety measure that pilots should take.


The following are the reasons why pilots should wear a helmet:


✔️Protection from head injuries: In case of an accident, a helmet can save the pilot's life. Helicopter crashes are not uncommon, and head injuries are one of the leading causes of fatalities. Wearing a helmet reduces the risk of severe head injuries, which can result in permanent brain damage or death.

✔️Protection from flying debris: When flying a helicopter, debris such as rocks, branches, or other objects can fly into the cockpit and hit the pilot's head. A helmet can protect the pilot from such debris and prevent head injuries.

✔️Noise protection: Helicopters generate a lot of noise, which can be harmful to the pilot's hearing. A helmet can provide noise protection, reducing the risk of hearing damage.

✔️Comfort: Helmets are designed to fit comfortably, reducing the risk of neck and back strain caused by the weight of the headset and other equipment.



Debate against wearing a helmet when flying helicopters:


While wearing a helmet when flying a helicopter may seem like a good idea, there are several arguments against it:


✔️Restricted field of vision: Helmets can restrict the pilot's field of vision, making it difficult to see obstacles, especially when looking down or to the sides.

✔️Increased weight: Helmets can add weight to the pilot's head, causing discomfort and fatigue during long flights.Heat: Helmets can make the cockpit uncomfortably hot, especially during long flights in warm weather.

✔️Cost: Helmets can be expensive, especially for pilots who fly as a hobby or have limited resources.


Conclusion


The debate about wearing a helmet when flying helicopters is ongoing, and there are valid arguments for both sides. While helmets can provide protection from head injuries, flying debris, and noise, they can also restrict the pilot's field of vision, cause discomfort, and be expensive. Ultimately, it is up to the individual pilot to decide whether or not to wear a helmet based on their personal preferences and risk tolerance.



Which helicopter industries recommended their pilots to wear helmets?


Most helicopter industries, especially those involved in commercial and military operations, recommend that their pilots wear helmets.


Some examples of these industries include:


✔️Military: All military helicopter pilots are required to wear helmets for safety reasons. Military helmets are designed to provide protection against ballistic threats, impact, and noise.

✔️Emergency Medical Services (EMS): EMS helicopter pilots are required to wear helmets to protect themselves from head injuries during emergency landing situations or during transport of critically ill or injured patients.

✔️Law enforcement: Police helicopter pilots are required to wear helmets for safety reasons during high-risk operations, such as pursuits or search and rescue missions.

✔️Offshore oil and gas: Helicopter pilots who transport personnel to offshore oil and gas rigs are required to wear helmets due to the high risk of accidents during takeoff and landing.

✔️Firefighting: Helicopter pilots who fight wildfires are required to wear helmets to protect themselves from falling debris and to improve communication during flights.


In summary, most helicopter industries recommend that their pilots wear helmets to reduce the risk of head injuries and improve safety during flight operations.


Which industries don’t wear helmets?


There are some industries where helicopter pilots typically do not wear helmets.


These industries include:


✔️Private helicopter operators: Private helicopter operators, such as those used for tourism or personal transportation, may not require their pilots to wear helmets. This is because these operations may not involve high-risk activities, and helmets may not be considered necessary.

✔️Agricultural operations: Helicopter pilots involved in agricultural operations, such as crop dusting or spraying, may not wear helmets. This is because the cockpit is typically open, and the risk of head injuries is considered low.

✔️Powerline and pipeline inspection: Helicopter pilots who inspect powerlines or pipelines may not wear helmets. These operations typically involve low-altitude flights, and the risk of head injuries is considered low.


It's important to note that even in these industries where helmets may not be required, some pilots may still choose to wear helmets for personal safety reasons or because they feel more comfortable wearing one. Ultimately, the decision to wear a helmet is up to the individual pilot and their employer's policies.



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