Why do some helicopter pilots wear a helmet and some don’t?

Posted in Blog by STEPHAN/H on

By taking a quick look around the industry, we realize that some helicopter pilots wear a helmet, while others prefer to wear a headset when flying. The staff at STEPHAN/H were curious to know why pilots made the choices they have made on this matter. To get some clarity on the topic, we decided to consult several pilots to learn their point of view regarding their preference of wearing a helmet or headset.

For experienced pilot Patrick Lafleur, wearing a helmet is common, but his decision depends on the nature of the flight. “I wear a helmet most of the time in flight. Especially when performing aerial work and training. If it’s high-end passenger transport, I wear a headset,” he says. He explains this decision by stating that wearing the helmet could affect the pilot’s proximity to the passengers. Another thing to keep in mind is the perception from the passengers. The passengers may wonder why the pilot feels it is necessary to wear a helmet while they don’t. He also believes that during these types of flights, the risks are lower than in aerial work, so the need for a helmet wouldn’t be as important.

Helicopter pilot Patrick Lafleur wearing a helmet (left) and wearing a headset (right)

When asked if he believes that helmet use should be mandatory, he replied that he would not make it mandatory, although he thinks companies should have their pilots wear helmets in training and aerial work. In addition, it would be interesting for companies to offer programs to their employees to help cover the cost of a helmet, which can be quite expensive. We are talking about an average of $ 2,000 to $ 3,000, plus additional options that pilots may want.

The cost of the helmet is a major factor that prevents some pilots like Marie-Lee Roy, a Quebec City based pilot, from wearing it during aerial work. While she does not believe that the helmet should be mandatory, Roy recognizes several advantages to wearing a helmet, both in terms of safety and technology. She really appreciates the various options of visors, which allow pilots to adapt easily to different conditions without the need for sunglasses.

Like Lafleur, Australian pilot David Adamson also believes that the helmet should be worn during aerial work. He states that certain contract operations mandate a pilot to wear a helmet. This requirement is much like requiring a pilot to wear a fire resistant combination, such as the STEPHAN/H’s Signature Fire Resistant Flight Suit.

Helmet with Night Vision Goggles (Airmedic)

When Adamson takes part in such missions, he wears his helmet at all times. He also wears it during night flights, because of the use of night vision goggles. He prefers wearing it when using the sling as well, since the helmet stays in place more effectively than the headset. This is quite important because he often has to fly with the door off, while looking at the load under the helicopter. The noise reduction technology is another great feature provided by the helmet. Adamson spoke highly of the improvements on noise reduction technology that have taken place over the past few years.

On the matter of helmets versus headsets, Adamson believes the helmet should be mandatory depending on the type of work being done. While it has been proven that the helmet can save lives and reduce the risk of serious injury in the event of an accident, he does not believe that the helmet should be mandatory at all times. “It is down to personal choice to wear a helmet or not,” he says.

Most of the pilots we talked to seem to agree that the helmet should be worn during aerial work missions, but for some, it is imperative to wear one for take off. Frédéric Ali, Chief Instructor of Capitale Hélicoptère Flight School, wears his helmet at all times. In addition to safety reasons, he also prefers the noise reduction technology, as well as the advantages of the visors. For the reasons mentioned above, he does believe that helmet use should become mandatory.

So what do you think? Do you wear a helmet when flying? Do you think helmet use should be mandatory for helicopter pilots?

PROS

  • Increases safety in the event of accidents or unexpected events
  • Noise reduction technology
  • Visor
  • Added protection when flying without doors
  • Holds better than headset on the pilot’s head
  • Professional look

CONS

  • Some pilots find it uncomfortable
  • Too hot in summer time
  • Very expensive
  • Some pilots do not want to wear it with passengers on board