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  On September 30th three more names were added to the growing number of air medical air crash survivors in America, when a CareFlite Agusta 109 helicopter had what was euphemistically described...

Nothing brings a productive day to a screeching halt quicker than a broken aircraft. At the very core of getting the anomaly identified and corrected is that initial interaction between the mechanic and pilot.

By following a few simple suggestions you can fine tune these early communications, improve troubleshooting efficiency, and get the aircraft back online sooner.

Want to hear something shocking?  According to the American Journal of Clinical Medicine (Winter 2009 issue) after assessing past statistics then projecting them forward, they predicted that if you fly in a HEMS helicopter and do that job for twenty years, you face a 40 percent chance of losing your life.

Many helicopter operators ask themselves these questions, and many others, when the conversation with a peer or competitor turns to the subject of an outside audit. Questions are a natural reaction, and each organization needs answers before they embark on an outside safety audit.

The helicopter pilot works in an amazing, ever-changing environment. The skills necessary to accomplish the task at hand for most commercial or even private helicopter flight operations require a high level of concentration, ability and finesse just to name a few. (social skills excluded)

It was getting late in the afternoon and I had just finished a days flying in Key West, Florida. It had been one of those strange, hazy gray, overcast, blustery days, with the wind steady out of the east at 15 – 20 knots. It looked like it wanted to storm any minute, but never really did with the exception of an occasional spit of rain here and there.

Birds are a severe danger for pilots. Especially when flying at low altitudes with high speed – a profile that is typical for helicopter flights.. What can be done to prevent strikes and to save lives and costs?

A Squirrel, a Moose, and Loss of Control in Helicopter Accidents By Lee Roskop  (IHST team member) Years ago, many kids used to watch the TV cartoon Rocky and Bullwinkle.  For those who ...

Helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) provide life-saving transports for the critically ill or injured. However, the rising number of U.S. HEMS accidents over the past decade is cause for serious questions as to their operational safety. For this reason a national effort is underway to reduce HEMS accidents.

By Matt Zuccaro -I am sure most of you are familiar with the various accident reduction efforts within the industry—be they Helicopter Association International, FAA, the International Helicopter Safety Team, Tour Operators Program of Safety, Airborne Law Enforcement Association or the European Helicopter Safety Team. The basic premise of these efforts is to reduce the number of accidents that occur within the helicopter community—either the aggregate number or those that involve fatalities.

By Bill Winn - The sound of thunder on the near horizon can herald hope or fear, depending on whether you are a drought-stricken farmer or a Golden Retriever with a serious phobia of both the boom and flash of lightening. My dog Max literally climbs into bed between me and Joyce during every thunderstorm, and lies there shivering uncontrollably until the storm has passed. It's like having one of those vibrating beds you find in cheap motels.

Night flight usage and technology have grown exponentially in the past few years and the dilemma from FAA mandate to have a minimum of 2 crewmembers for NVG flight operations below 300’ AGL has evolved as well. There are two general sides taken in this discussion. The first is the belief that NVG operations can be conducted safely with only the pilot using NVGs, while others believe that NVG flight operations below 300’ AGL is a multi-crew task. Each side of the discussion believes the alternative to be undesirable. In this article, we will take an objective look at this issue.

Actually “we” probably do…or at least one or two of us need a little firmer guidance from the FAA and/or our operator.  When I started flying patients in dire need about forty-one years ago we had very few restrictions.  Of course, it was a combat zone and we were very young and bold. Many years later after losing far too many friends who bravely pushed into the jaws of death, even in peacetime, it is clear to me that one doesn’t become “old and bold” unless we restrict ourselves and exercise restraint and good judgment on every single flight, no matter how critical.  It has also become clear to me that a few of our peers need adult supervision from time to time.

This is a preliminary report of a survey completed by 568 active helicopter EMS pilots in September and October of 2010. The solicitation to pilots to participate in this survey included the following introductory statement:

GOMER: Working in the Gulf of Mexico - Part 2
Article, Photos, & Video by Lyn Burks

Gomer VideoIn my experience, if you would like to see how serious a helicopter operator is about safety, then look no further than its new hire or recurrent pilot training programs. On one hand, there are programs which barely meet the FAA minimums, with their training program loosely packaged between the covers of Part 135 Operations Specifications. On the other, there are operators who go beyond the OpSpecs and fill the training “tool box” with innovative techniques and dedicated people.

Having been invited in to conduct a week’s worth of program evaluation and EVS training by Wojciech Wozniczka, the LPR Deputy Technical Director.  I had the sincere pleasure to work with this tremendously professional EMS group based out of Warsaw, Poland which had been founded in 2000.  The LPR was a result of the consolidation of several independent EMS units to form a single state (country) medical service with the ability to coordinate all care from one single location.

It wasn’t too many years ago that most helicopter operators in the US conducting EMS operations would hire a pilot, then in company training validate that pilot to commercial standards per the Federal Aviation Regulations, and quickly send him to a field base to conduct EMS operations for a customer without so much as telling him what the EMS mission he was about to perform was all about. It wasn’t a FAA requirement to train to the mission, but it was a requirement to train the pilot to operate the aircraft safely while conducting the mission, whatever that mission might be. That is where a major problem lied and many operators didn’t realize it was an issue that needed to be dealt with.

By Rex Alexander - There are few things in our industry that will generate more emotion and controversy or have people taking sides faster than the topic of hot loading patients. Having been a pilot in the air medical business for 14 years, I have had the opportunity to see the good, the bad, and the ugly from both sides of this issue several hundred times over.

By Rex Alexander - Warning and caution signs that every heliport should have to enhance safety and reduce liability.

Ever since the first helicopter landed and took off from a heliport, we as an industry have worked hard to make the heliport environment as safe as possible.  Whether it is obstruction lighting to illuminate surrounding hazards, a safety net surrounding an elevated heliport, or a windsock to indicate the wind direction, many organizations have done everything feasible to insure safety at their heliports.

Safety — Where Do the Owner/Operators and Their Management Team Fit In?

By Matt Zuccaro - As you are aware, safety is my favorite topic, as I believe it ultimately affects everything we do in our industry — both in the present and for the future. With this in mind, you would think all owner/operators would have a laser focus on this issue, making it their number one decision criteria. In a perfect world that would be true, but last time I checked not everything we want occurs in the bright reality of day-to-day operations. However, it does not have to be that way.


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