Posts Tagged emergency

Land the damn helicopter!

President’s Message by US-based Helicopter Association International (HAI) President Matt Zuccaro

So, how is your day going? Mine was not that great. I spent it reading National Transportation Safety Board helicopter accident reports. I don’t know about you, but my level of frustration is at an all-time high.

There were no surprises. No one has yet invented a new way to crash helicopters. The reports noted the usual suspects — fuel exhaustion, continued flight in marginal weather resulting in inadvertent IMC and, in the minority, mechanical failures. To round it out, there was a pilot under the influence of both prescription and over-the-counter medications with no reporting to the FAA.

In many accidents, there is prior knowledge that all is not well. With fuel exhaustion, most pilots are aware of low fuel and the uncertainty of reaching fuel. In weather-related incidents, pilots know they are in less-than-desirable weather conditions, with difficulty maintaining visual flight rules. Accidents caused by mechanical failures involve alerts by warning systems and abnormal noises or vibrations. In a medical incapacitation or under-the-influence case, the pilot is usually aware of his substandard performance and diminished abilities.

With the above in mind and assuming an acceptable landing site is available, why don’t pilots exercise one of the most unique and valuable capabilities of vertical flight — namely, land the damn helicopter! In a high percentage of crashes, this simple act would break the chain of events and prevent the accident.

I once spoke to a pilot who had survived an accident and asked why he hadn’t used his option to make a precautionary landing. He indicated he had not given it direct consideration and had focused instead on destination and mission completion. He admitted, though, that in the past he had worried about the scrutiny he would incur for making a precautionary landing. This didn’t surprise me. In my early days of flying, I, too, pondered the same issues at times, although luckily I don’t any more.

Pilots normally associate precautionary landings with the police showing up, their company incurring logistical and legal costs, upset passengers refusing to fly with them again, the FAA wanting an explanation, the press asking questions, and peers expressing opinions on their abilities.

READ ON …

, , ,

No Comments

Spain gets first all-female medical helicopter crew

Spain’s first all-female medical helicopter crew has been formed at the Malpartida medical base in the western city of Cácares.

The four-person crew is made up of pilot Beatriz Parera, medic Gloria Palacios and Salobrar Sánchez and Rocio Ramos from the Extremadura Health Service, and uses a Eurocopter EC135.

“The gender of the crew doesn’t matter,” Parera says. “What matters is the way the crew and the health professionals work together to ensure successful missions.”

The service is operated by INAER Spain, which operates 27 medical aircraft in the country. The company says that last year it completed 8,228 medical emergency missions and treated 6,658 patients suffering from conditions including trauma, heart attacks, strokes and sepsis, as well as providing neonatal care and transport.

INAER is part of the Avincis Group, which operates two companies in Australia – Australian Helicopters and Bond Helicopters Australia.

Australian Helicopters is based in Queensland and delivers multiple-sector services on an immediate-response basis to state and federal government clients and agencies from Brisbane and eight bases between Torres Strait and Adelaide. Included in its fleet of 19 helicopters are nine multi-engine IFR helicopters for operations over water.

Bond was established to provide energy support services to one of the world’s fastest growing offshore oil and gas markets. The company recently won its first major contract and will start providing services in November this year.

, , , , , , , ,

No Comments