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Sunday, June 1, 2008

Rotorcraft Report: FAA Issues Guidance on EMS Operational Control Centers


The FAA has issued a new advisory circular offering guidance to EMS helicopter operators in setting up operational control centers and implementing enhanced operational control procedures.

AC 120-96, which went into effect May 5, covers EMS operations under Federal Aviation Regulation Part 135. It offers a model for setting up an operational control center, a checklist for auditing the operation of such centers, and recommended areas of training.

The advisory circular was drafted with a great deal of input from the National Assn of Air-medical Communications Specialists, which offered the FAA suggestions on the training required for personnel in an operations control center to provide support of EMS operations. It fulfills the FAA’s commitment that it would not require the use of certificated aircraft dispatchers in Part 135 EMS operations; such dispatchers, who share operational responsibility of a flight with the pilot in command, are required for Part 121 operations.

The advisory circular is the latest development in an FAA review of operational control issues that started in the wake of a February 2005 corporate jet crash in Teterboro, N.J. The investigation of that crash revealed operational control was not executed by the FAA certificate holder.

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