23 Apr 09 FAA to Propose New Medical Helicopter Safety Rules

A Federal Aviation Administration official said Wednesday that the agency planned to propose new rules requiring medical helicopters to use additional safety equipment, including collision avoidance systems.
The agency’s move follows a series of fatal medical helicopter crashes over the last two years that have killed 35 people. In recent years, both the National Safety Transportation Board, which makes recommendations to the F.A.A., and air safety experts have criticized the agency for not moving more quickly to improve medical helicopter safety.
Previously, the F.A.A. took the position that helicopter operators could make safety changes more quickly if they acted voluntarily. But John Allen, the F.A.A.’s director of flight standards, testified at a Congressional hearing Wednesday that the agency, while recognizing the industry’s voluntary actions, would soon begin a rulemaking proceeding to mandate the use of certain safety equipment and procedures.
“We recognize that relying on voluntarily compliance alone is not enough to ensure safe flight operations,” Mr. Allen testified before the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Aviation.
More than 800 medical helicopters are currently estimated to be operating in this country, airlifting the sick and injured, often under emergency conditions. In the last decade, the industry has doubled in size, and many of the aircraft are operated by for-profit companies. Safety experts contend that competition among companies for flights has added to the risks.
The industry includes publicly traded companies like the Air Methods Corporation and PHI Inc., as well as smaller privately held operators. While the F.A.A. plans to begin the rulemaking procedure later this year or early next, the rules will first undergo a public comment period and may not take effect until 2011. Among other measures, the F.A.A. proposal would include a requirement that medical helicopters have so-called terrain awareness and avoidance systems, which warn of nearby terrestrial obstacles.
The systems, which can cost up to $100,000 for each helicopter, are used only on about 40 percent of the nation’s medical helicopters. Dawn Mancuso, the head of the Association of Air Medical Services, a trade group based in Alexandria, Va., said some operators might not be able to afford the equipment.



20 Apr 09 HEMS Industry Risk Profile

From the Flight Safety Foundation: "The Flight Safety Foundation released a groundbreaking assessment today that provides a comprehensive look at the risks facing the Helicopter Emergency medical services (HEMS) industry. The Industry Risk Profile (IRP), developed by Aerosafe Risk Management, also provides a roadmap outlining proactive steps that the industry and regulators can follow in order to mitigate these risks.

Aerosafe developed the IRP using internationally recognized risk management standards. This independent analysis utilized a wide variety of data and perspectives from the HEMS industry. The IRP process is designed specifically to allow industry to step up and shape a way forward. A copy of the HEMS IRP is available on the Flight Safety Foundation web site at

This is a great collaborative product, and free! I also uploaded a copy HEMS Industry Risk Profile.

Fly Smart


07 Apr 09 National Assembly Library, Seoul, Republic of Korea

I visited the National Assembly Library in Seoul, a very impressive institution. The were kind enough to give me access to the computer so I could access the Texas Woman's University website and post on the discussion board for my Library and Information Sciences classes.

"The National Assembly Library of the Republic of Korea contributes to be well-informed parliamentary democracy and the people's right to know by collecting knowledge information of the world and providing them to the National Assembly and the people; and preserves the legislature's activities and intellectual cultural heritage for the future generation."


03 Apr 09 NTSB Aviation Accidents Statistics for 2008

The National Transportation Safety Board released Thursday its preliminary aviation accident statistics for the 2008 calendar year, showing improvements in some industry sectors but increased accident rates in others.
"While the overall aviation safety record in the United States is among the best in the world, the 2008 accident statistics reveal a mixed picture," said NTSB Acting Chairman Mark V. Rosenker. "We are particularly concerned with the spike in fatalities in on-demand air charter operations. There's a lot of room for improvement in this area, and as evidenced by our recent forum on emergency medical service helicopter accidents, we continue to do everything we can to identify the safety issues involved, and to advocate for the adoption of our recommendations that will make the skies safer."
On-demand flight operations (classified by regulators as operating under the federal code 14 CFR Part 135), which include air medical, air taxi and air tour flights, logged over 3.6 million flight hours and had 56 accidents, killing 66 people - the highest number of fatalities since 2000; there were 43 fatalities in 2007. The accident rate per 100,000 flight hours (1.52) remained virtually unchanged from 2007 (1.54).
The number of accidents involving large commercial carriers (Part 121) was 28 in both 2008 and 2007. In both scheduled and non-scheduled services, the airlines carried 753 million passengers on over 10.8 million flights without a passenger fatality.
In 2008, commuter airlines (also operating under Part 135 in the federal code) that typically fly smaller turboprop aircraft made 581,000 flights, logging over 290,000 hours. These operators had seven accidents, none of which resulted in fatalities. This is an increase from three accidents in 2007.
In general aviation, there were 1,559 accidents, 275 of which involved fatalities, killing a total of 495 -- one fewer than the previous year. The GA accident rate per 100,000 flight hours was 7.11, up from 6.92 in 2007. In the last 20 years, the highest accident rate was 9.08 in 1994; the lowest rate was 6.33 in 2006.
Federal legislation defines an aircraft accident as an occurrence associated with the operation of an aircraft which takes place between the time any person boards the aircraft with the intention of flight and all such persons have disembarked, and in which any person suffers death or serious injury, or in which the aircraft receives substantial damage.


03 Apr 09 Low Cost Airport Surface Driving Simulator by Volpe

From the 2008 Report:"Vehicle/pedestrian deviations (VPDs) occur due to many factors, such as the driver’s knowledge of airport layout, required communications, and other operational procedures. To address and create awareness of these issues, research has been conducted to explore the use of simulators in the driver training curriculum. Since training in a simulator, or virtual environment, has been found to be very helpful in learning complex routes as well as in spatial orientation and in assimilating signs and markings (Darken and Peterson, 2002), an initial investigation into making this technology more accessible to airports was needed. Previous work demonstrated the benefits of incorporating a high-fidelity driving simulator into ground vehicle drivers’ training (Chase and Hannon, 2006). Subsequent work showed that a low-cost simulator provided comparable benefits (Chase, 2006).
This low-cost simulator was designed and built by staff at the John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center and was tested using ground vehicle operators from the Hanscom Field Airport (BED) in Bedford, Massachusetts. The results of training ground vehicle drivers with the low-cost simulator were positive with regard to navigational and spatial awareness issues."

FMI: Runway Safety Low Cost Driving Simulator report

Drive Smart

03 Apr 09 AOPA Nall Report is Released Form AOPA

e-Pilot Training: ‘Nall Report’ reveals highs, lows in GA safety record
"The number of accidents increased in 2007, which is worrisome, but the number of fatalities declined—as did the rate of fatal accidents, which fell more than would be anticipated by a declining number of flight hours, indicating a real reduction, according to the nineteenth annual AOPA Air Safety Foundation Joseph T. Nall Report released March 27. “While any fatality is one too many, the declines indicate that industry-wide efforts to improve safety are bearing fruit,” said Bruce Landsberg, president of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. “But the increase in the overall number of accidents indicates that there is still work to be done to improve safety. The Nall Report helps us determine where to focus our efforts.” Read more >>"
One of our local FAASTeam Reps Neil Krey does a great job helping to prepare this report. Grab a cup of coffee and take a look at it.
FMI: AOPA ePilot

Fly Smart,

01 Apr 09 Conference is a Huge Success

Our 2009 conference wrapped up today and it was a huge success, thanks to the great group of attendees, volunteers, Frontiers of Flight Museum, Bombardier, ISASI, Curt Lewis and speakers. I would especially like to thank our outstanding FAASTeam volunteers Jim Quinn, Chuck Schaffer and Dale Walker. Among many other things, Jim was responsible for coordinating lunch and worked out a great arrangement for the local Civil Air Patrol to have a refreshment stand fundraiser. Chuck provided great support, and I must thank his employer Bombardier for supporting the event. Dale spent many hours at our registration table handling questions about our event. Tim Logan, Erin Carroll, Toby Carroll and John Darbo and our local ISASI group sponsored a great lunch, and Curt gave wise counsel on prep for the event. I must also thank Cathy Dees and Erin for the telephone training on event details. I also had help from Brian Swain and Lance Bozlinski, two fellow aviators who dropped in and worked out some last minute details and manned the video camera.

The FAA provided great support as usual, with reps from the local FAASTeam Programs, Regional and National Runway Safety office. Thank yous go out to Barry Proctor, Steve Buckner, Joe Murphy, Jim McElvain, Paul Erway, Chuckie Hospers, Robert Conner, Jim, Wes Timmons, and Steve Smith.

I offer my most sincere gratitude to my friend Steve Buckner. Steve made sure all of the technical challenges were addressed, especially the audio/ visual needs of 16 speakers. I have been to many conferences and rarely see one run this smooth. I also must thank Steve for being a great leader who encourages volunteers to reach new heights in personal development.

I'm sure I missed a few key folks, but lastly and most importantly, thanks to my family. I enjoy their full support and words can not describe how that makes me feel.

I hope we see you next year in Dallas, last week in March 2010!