Avoiding Controlled Flight Into Terrain

Posted Monday, August 26 2013 as Company News

Based on the success of the fixed-wing TAWS, this paper briefly highlights the issues dealt with in fixed-wing CFIT and the correlation of using a TAWS solution to address rotorcraft CFIT. It also discusses the challenges and benefits of Helicopter Terrain Awareness and Warning Systems (HTAWS), and the operational reason and decisions made in the design of the leading HTAWS today. Taken together, the improvements over a conventional HTAWS system shows how a commercial, off-the-shelf HTAWS can successfully be installed in tactical helicopters with minimal modifications and reasonable costs to significantly reduce CFIT.


In 2012 there were a total of 133 fatal helicopter accidents worldwide which involved 420 fatalities [Ref 20]. The International Helicopter Safety Team reports: Controlled Flight into Terrain (CFIT) ranks as the 13th most common of helicopter accident types and according to NTSB statistics, 60% of all CFIT accidents are fatal. Despite its frequency, helicopter pilots may find it difficult to relate to the concept of unknowingly flying their aircraft into the ground. Many in-flight emergencies can be detected and require a specific course of corrective action. However, when CFIT occurs, the pilot usually learns of the emergency the same instant the helicopter impacts the terrain. Therefore it is important for pilots to understand what conditions and actions lead to CFIT so that they can recognize and avoid these hazards to prevent the accident [Ref 21].

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