Safer Helicopter Operations Demand Enhanced Weather Data

Weather has the greatest impact on a helicopter operation’s safety and profitability. Harsh weather, including poor visibility, high winds, and thunderstorms, can damage equipment, reduce flight hours, and all too often lead to personal injury or even death.

Basic weather information isn’t enough for helicopter operators. AviationSentry Helicopter Edition delivers upgraded weather forecasts designed specifically for helicopter pilots, as well as safety alerts and route recommendations created by industry professionals.

Contact us today to schedule a product demo. Discover our precisely crafted helicopter program suite and put our knowledge and experience to good work in your machines.


Seeing clearly through the fog

Though helicopter pilots are some of the most skilled fliers in the industry, accurate weather data lends additional safety and precision to any pilot’s skill set. 

In the helicopter crash involving Kobe Bryant, his daughter, and other passengers, the weather was the primary culprit of the accident. Low-flying aircraft are much more susceptible to the dangers of low visibility arising from fog, precipitation, or wind-blown debris.

In this recent example, the helicopter became surrounded in fog, making it impossible for the pilot to see the hilly terrain in front of him before he collided with it.

Though helicopter crashes remain (thankfully!) rare, the instance of fog-related helicopter accidents has increased from 15% of all chopper accidents to 33% since 2009.

Advancements in training and flight simulation certainly have bolstered chopper flight safety in recent years. Changing weather conditions remain somewhat of a “wild card,” even when you’ve done all your homework for a clear “go” decision. 

Making swift and safe judgment calls based on accurate weather data helps pilots ensure safe travel for themselves, their flight crews, and passengers.

Helicopter pilot smiling

Become wind-savvy

High winds can represent an even larger challenge than fog for helicopter pilots. Wind risk increases further in varied terrain like urban areas. Destructive and unsettling wind gusts can surprise even the most seasoned pilots. 

Enhanced safety standards can be hard to maintain in the face of weather surprises like high winds. Having an accurate model of wind gusts on your flight plan and in your precise locale can help you calmly adjust to dynamic weather conditions in any area.

No one recommends a “go” decision when outdoor conditions remain unsafe. But, having a trusted source for accurate weather data at your fingertips can mean more airtime and fewer grounded missions or projects.


A changing global climate means unique local weather conditions

Long-term climate change influences “normal” weather patterns in your area. It’s smart to understand the bigger picture of the impact of changing local weather trends as a helicopter operator. 

Having short- and long-term weather data compiled in readable, understandable, and responsive formats can help you shape your flying seasons for utmost safety as well as profit. Investing in updating your data platforms can mean the difference between a flight business model that works and one that flounders with the changing tides.

Helicopter flying in the city

Airplanes and helicopters: different crafts, differing data needs

Sadly, many in-flight weather data programs were created for airlines and airplanes. Safe helicopter operations demand in-the-moment accuracy because of the highly responsive nature of helicopter flight.

Choppers require a different type of weather data solution, one that changes and adjusts just as adeptly as the helicopter in flight.

Since choppers are so nimble in the air, they can also land and take off from a variety of surfaces. Not only is in-flight weather data paramount to safety but landing and take-off weather conditions play a huge role in navigating the craft from place to place.

Having instantaneous access to robust forecast models and a team of meteorologists at your fingertips is a massive help to chopper pilots. Embracing a “team” attitude when making flight decisions (even as a solo pilot) helps you optimize safety in every aspect of your business.

Previously, if a risky weather situation arose mid-flight, you’d have only your wits and experience to guide you to a safe landing. Thankfully, the technology exists today to help you more accurately plan your flights and make data-based decisions when weather emergencies do arise.

When you want to check your judgment with a team of other experts watching the skies around you, now you can.


Helicopter in-flight weather strategy

In today’s helicopter industry, we see a rise in new and helpful technology. These platforms can include:

  • Customizable weather forecasting tools crafted precisely for the challenges facing chopper pilots (like low altitude flying.)
  • Real-time forecast updates that are explicitly targeted to your coordinates. (Because even the best-laid chopper flight plans can change in an instant when Mother Nature throws a curveball.)
  • Continual flight plan alert software (keeping you informed on a variety of evolving situations that could affect your safety)
  • On-demand meteorological consultations with experts (to give you data-informed input when navigating your next moves in the air or on the ground.)

Helicopter flying over water

How do I get started optimizing my weather data collection?

The team at DTN has several solutions designed precisely for helicopter pilots and fleets. To select the solutions that will serve you best, the first outline your highest priority weather challenges. These safety roadblocks can shift depending on your:

  • Location (different weather challenges in other regions, seasonally and perennially)
  • Business model (choose one or several weather data solutions depending on your goals)
  • Revenue goals (weather that grounds you impacts your sales. The team at DTN can help you increase safe flight time with accurate weather data.)
  • Responsiveness requirements (An Air Ambulance pilot may need a different set of options than a tourist pleasure craft.)

Contact DTN today to begin strategizing the best real-time weather forecasting and data solutions to fit your helicopter fleet needs.