A recent spike in attacks on American helicopters in Iraq is unlikely
to have any impact on the use of air transportation in Iraq. Just as the more
extensive use of roadside bombs has not interfered with ground transportation.
However, the high visibility roadside bombs received in the media has had an
impact on the use of helicopters in Iraq. While troops are more likely to get
injured in a vehicle accident, than by a roadside bomb, in Iraq, the presence
of the bomb threat has caused greater demand for helicopter transportation.
Many American bases have what amounts to "bus service" via air. People show up
at the helicopter pad, and often find an informal schedule of flights posted.
The net result is that many troops go to Iraq and hardly ever use the roads
when they move around, because it's so easy to get a ride on a helicopter. The
recent attacks on helicopters made people anxious, but has not reduced the
demand for air transport.
same phenomenon was noticed four decades ago in Vietnam. The helicopter was new
then, but troops quickly caught on to the fact that it was faster, and safer,
to travel around by helicopter. Back then, you were twice as likely to get shot
down while moving by helicopter, but the casualty rate for helicopter
passengers was so low, that it did not discourage troops. Helicopters were also
more than twice as likely, then than now, to go down because of a
malfunction, but this did not discourage people either. Vehicle accident rates
on the ground were higher, and there were roadside bombs and ambushes in
Vietnam as well. But in Vietnam, the the media did not make a big deal
about the road dangers. That's because there was so much more combat going on
in the bush. So remember, what you see in the news may be true, but it is
rarely the whole story.