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Safety

By Jenna Shepard - There are two main threats to EMS helicopter pilots – weather and darkness, but this really shouldn’t come as a surprise. In 1988, the National Transportation Safety Board investigated 59 helicopter emergency medical services accidents and concluded that low visibility, often caused by poor weather conditions accounted for 61% of all crashes. Since then, little has changed.Although the commercial aviation industry requires that an aircraft be outfitted with everything from weather tracking technologies like onboard radar and GPS to collision avoidance tools, these same requirements are not made of the medical helicopter industry. Furthermore, at a time when air medical companies are being scrutinized due to the sheer number of EMS helicopter crashes and a lack of critical onboard technologies not yet mandated by the FAA, one company is making big strides in the right direction by focusing on weather safety.

By Kerry Sullivan - The article by Susan Parson in the March issue titled “Personal Minimums: A Development Guide” provides a systematic way for pilots to determine realistic safety margins for weather. The EMS operator I fly for requires its pilots to develop their own personal weather minimums which are to be more restrictive than those contained in the Operations Specifications. I have found more restrictive minimums necessary because I do not believe the generally used weather minimums are adequate to keep me out of Inadvertent Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IIMC). Despite strict weather minimums, detailed weather products and annual training in weather and pilot decision making we still have all too-frequent incidents of IIMC. As we are all painfully aware, some of these IIMC occurrences result in fatal accidents.

For those law enforcement agencies that operate in cold weather environments, winter adds dangers we must consider before launching.

Winter brings a combination of high moisture content and cold temperatures that pose a threat of engine, airframe, and blade icing. During day and night operations, snow and ice become significant threats in many ways.

Fuel Planning,Endurance and Fuel Problems...by Cem Kurkcu

Fuel,it is essential for any sort of machine to work. However, it really means more than that to pilots, especially for helo pilots who fly over different regions, terrain and water. There is no excuse for fuel problems. Whatever goes wrong with fuel, eventually the helicopter loses substantial power, because piston or turbine engine runs inefficently, the worst situation is an unexpected engine flame out at an unexpetd time,over an unexpected place. This combination is intimidating.

All accidents are not preventable by Anonymous

The cry of helicopter Aviation Safety and Management seems to suggest that all accidents are preventable. While I applaud and support the efforts to reduce accidents within our community and hope serious calamities are minimized, I'm not willing to concede that the concept of Zero Defects is, in the long run, practical or even beneficial. I posit that the very existence of accidents is demonstrative of the predisposition of the human condition, namely our own imperfections. Furthermore, it is the positive response to accidents which is the seed for our greatest improvements and achievements (a case I should not have to make).

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