While the FAA develops new rules to improve the safety of helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS), the ranking Republicans on the House Transportation and Infrastructure (T&I) Committee and its aviation subcommittee called for congressional action.
Yesterday the House subcommittee on aviation held a hearing on helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) safety. The hearing sought to address the high accident rate, which resulted in 13 accidents and 35 fatalities in HEMS operations between December 2007 and October 2008.
At the conclusion of three-and-a-half days of NTSB public hearings on the safety of helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) operations early last month, Board member Robert Sumwalt summed up what several witnesses had already conceded, “There is no single magic bullet.”
Swiss interiors designer Aerolite has delivered a fourth AW139 EMS helicopter to Norwegian air ambulance operator Lufttransport. The interior includes a stretcher for single- and dual-patient configuration and four “ergonomically placed” swiveling and tracking seats. If necessary, the operator can change the configuration to a 12-seat utility design.
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.