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Entries in FAA (52)

Thursday
Oct072010

New Rules To Prevent Air Ambulance Crashes

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposed broad new rules for helicopter operators Thursday, including air ambulances, which, if finalized, would require stricter flight rules and procedures, improved communications and training and additional on-board safety equipment.

 “This is a significant proposal that will improve the safety of many helicopter flights in the United States,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “The FAA’s initiatives have helped the helicopter industry make progress on many safety issues, but it’s time to take steps towards mandating these major safety improvements.”

 Under the proposed rules, operators would use the latest on-board technology and equipment to avoid terrain and obstacles. The proposal also contains provisions which, if finalized, would require operators to use enhanced procedures for flying in challenging weather, at night, and when landing in remote locations. 

“We can prevent accidents by preparing pilots and equipping helicopters for all of the unique flying conditions they encounter,” said FAA administrator Randy Babbitt. “These new rules are designed to protect passengers, patients, medical personnel, and pilots.”

Since August 2004, the FAA has promoted initiatives to reduce risk for helicopter air ambulance operations. While accidents did decline in 2005 and 2006, 2008 proved to be the deadliest year on record with six accidents that claimed 24 lives. Overall, from 1992 through 2009, 135 helicopter air ambulance accidents claimed 126 lives. From 1994 through 2008, there were also 75 commercial helicopter accidents -- excluding air ambulances -- that resulted in 88 fatalities.

The estimated cost of the proposal in present value for the air ambulance industry is $136 million with a total benefit of $160 million over 10 years. The cost for other commercial operators is $89 million with a total benefit of $115 million over 10 years.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct072010

FAA Proposing New Safety Rules for Helicopters

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to propose new rules Thursday that will boost helicopter safety, especially the safety of medical helicopters that transport the injured to hospitals.

EMS helicopters play a vital role in saving lives by flying seriously wounded crash victims to nearby trauma centers.  But this year alone, there have been six accidents which have resulted in the death of 16 people onboard the choppers.  The National Transportation Safety Board has long called for tougher safety regulations, and the FAA plans to enforce just that.

An industry source says it's likely the agency will require new equipment to warn pilots if they are too close to the ground, as well as better pilot training.

Industry insiders say this will be a good first step, but much more will be needed to ensure that trying to save a life doesn't cost one.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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