What is the issue?

The helicopter industry is experiencing more and more challenges. Probably the most serious one is the accident rate, which remains significantly higher than in fixed-wing and has not decreased for several years. Helicopter operations are very different from fixed-wing, helicopter pilots often operating in dangerous situations (search and rescue), emergencies (helicopter emergency medical services) and unfriendly environments (firefighting). A further challenge is that the helicopter industry seriously lacks harmonised rules in Europe that would help improve safety levels. Many types of operations remain a competence of the States, who are not bound by European safety rules and sometimes prefer to regulate to the minimum level.

Why is the issue important to ECA?

ECA is the representative body of all European pilots, including some 1,500 helicopter pilots. As challenges faced by helicopter pilots are mainly safety challenges, it is ECA’s task to work towards improving the levels of safety, by providing expertise and operational knowledge.

How is ECA involved?

As the European regulator, EASA is the main interlocutor for ECA regarding helicopter safety. EASA has acknowledged the need to improve the levels of safety and created, in 2006, the European Helicopter Safety Team (EHEST). Until early 2017 ECA contributed to this platform by providing its expertise at the plenary of EHEST, and by joining the technical subgroups of EHEST (i.e. dedicated to training). From 2017 – EHEST has been phased out into the new EASA Rotorcraft Sectorial Committee (RSC), composed of 25 high level representatives from the European Rotorcraft community. RSC is one of the new EASA Stakeholders Advisory Bodies, and as such will provide inputs into the EASA Safety Risk Management Process. ECA is also developing tools and position papers that are presented to the EU institutions and EASA, in order to start regulating helicopter operations, as harmonisation is the first step to increase safety levels.

Who is responsible?
  • Executive Board Director: Arik Zipser
  • Staff member: Paulina Marcickiewicz
  • Working Group: Helicopters (HEL WG)
  • Chairman: David Abad

External Links


EASA European Helicopter Safety Team (EHEST)

EASA Rotorcraft Sectorial Committee (RSC) lifts off