A series of fatal medevac helicopter crashes last year prompted fresh calls for increased industry regulation, and by November the FAA had announced changes to the operations specifications governing helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) flights under Part 135. Those covered flight planning, weather minimums and the use of night-vision goggles (NVGs).
At the conclusion of four days of National Transportation Safety Board public hearings on the safety of helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) operations earlier this month, board member Robert Sumwalt summed up what several witnesses had already conceded: “There is no single magic bullet.”
Pilots flying helicopters for the French hospitals’ emergency medical services–Samu, under the French acronym–were scheduled to go on strike on January 30 to protest long hours, low wages and pressure exerted on unionists. On January 19
French civil aviation authority DGAC, Eurocopter and the French association of EMS doctors (AFHSH) late last year tested a satnav IFR route between two hospitals, with the goal of easing patient transfer. The next phase in the trials will involve carrying patients in the EC 145. The partners hope to use this GPS route permanently later this year, thus enabling operations in most weather.
Not surprisingly, there is no “magic bullet” solution to the spate of fatal helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) crashes over the last two years. Rather, investigation documents, released by the NTSB late last week, reveal a complex mosaic of multi-level human and technology failures behind nine of these crashes in the past two years.
Change is coming to the helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) industry, and once the dust settles there could be fewer providers flying fewer helicopters in a more costly and highly regulated environment.
Abu Dhabi-based Prestige Jet (Chalet No. 23) is expanding its air ambulance business to cater for a strong surge in demand for its medical evacuation and repatriation services. Yesterday, the company announced the formation of a new subsidiary, Prestige Flight Ambulance (PFA), which will make a dedicated Bombardier Challenger 604 and Learjet 55 available around the clock to carry patients to and from the United Arab Emirates.
Neither of the two medevac Bell 407s that collided in midair June 29 over Flagstaff, Ariz., was equipped with TCAS or any kind of cockpit voice or data recorder, an NTSB spokesman told AIN.
For entrepreneurs, the maturing of a growing market they created comes as a mixed triumph. On the one hand come the recognition, fame and loads of money that flow from not only setting the pace but also defining the race. On the other, there’s the pressure that the inevitable competition brings as other smart people sharpen their pencils and try to top the original business concept with improvements.
The two aeromedical Bell 407s involved in a fatal midair over Flagstaff, Ariz., on Sunday afternoon were not equipped with traffic collision avoidance systems or cockpit voice or data recorders, an NTSB spokesman told AIN.