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NCAR Convenes 2nd Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) Weather Summit

Washington, D.C. – The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in conjunction with the National EMS Pilots Association (NEMSPA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the National Weather Service (NWS), and the International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST), is holding a second HEMS Weather Summit on Wednesday, December 18 in Washington, DC.   The inaugural summit, held in Boulder Colorado in 2006, resulted in the development of the Aviation Digital Data Service (ADDS) HEMS Weather Tool.

The HEMS Weather Tool is a unique aviation weather reporting system that provides access to a 'gridded' ceiling and visibility assessment, along with several other atmospheric variables, in areas between Aviation Routine Weather Report (METAR) and Terminal Area Forecast (TAF) reporting/forecasting sites.  This algorithmic process has been shown to provide pilots with an enhanced weather interpretation picture for better weather decision making.

“Having been embraced by literally every pilot who has ever used it, the HEMS Weather Tool has become a critical safety enhancement for the HEMS and aviation industry,” states Rex Alexander, Past President of NEMSPA.  “At the end of the day, the industry’s primary objectives for this second summit are to ensure that this life saving weather reporting tool is fully funded, and that a fast-track time table is established for successfully moving it through the required Flight Standards assessment program.”  The second of the two summit goals is required before the HEMS Weather Tool can be moved from its current experimental status into consideration as a primary weather product by the FAA.

Thomas Judge, a member of the Joint Helicopter Safety Team notes; “The National Transportation Safety Board has identified that improving the low level weather grid is critical to the safety of helicopter operations and this is a high priority project for the IHST Infrastructure working group to reduce the risks to emergency operations. We appreciate NEMSPA’s leadership and the commitment of NCAR, the FAA, and the NWS to improve the safety of helicopter operations.”

Additional industry and governmental participants at the summit include the Association of Air Medical Operators (AMOA), Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS), Helicopter Association International (HAI), the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and U.S. Coast Guard.

Learn more about the HEMS Weather Tool at http://weather.aero/tools/desktopapps/hemstool

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