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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Rotorcraft Report: NTSB Recommends Rules For ENG

COMMERCIAL | ENG

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that the probable cause for the midair collision of two electronic newsgathering (ENG) helicopters over Phoenix was both pilots’ failure to avoid the collision because they were trying to cover a breaking car chase. The crash killed both pilots, who were flying Eurocopter AS350B2s, and their cameramen. The NTSB also concluded that the lack of formal procedures for Phoenix-area ENG pilots to follow while covering news from the air contributed to the accident. As a result of the formal investigation, the NTSB made the following (summarized) recommendations that were sent to the FAA for action:

  1. Require ENG operators to assign reporting responsibilities to someone other than the pilot unless the pilot’s workload remains manageable under all conditions.

  2. Require ENG operators to use high-visibility blade paint schemes and high-visibility anti-collision lights on their aircraft.

  3. Develop standards for helicopter cockpit electronic traffic advisory systems so that pilots can be alerted to the presence of other aircraft operating in the same area regardless of their position.

  4. Once standards for helicopter cockpit electronic traffic advisory systems are developed, require ENG operators to install this equipment on their aircraft.

  5. Host annual ENG helicopter conferences by major metropolitan region to discuss operational and safety issues affecting all ENG operations, as well as those issues that pertain to the specific region.

  6. On the basis of identified safety issues, develop letters of agreement for aircraft to specify minimum horizontal and vertical separation requirements.

  7. Incorporate pertinent information from Helicopter Association International’s ENG Aviation Safety Manual into an advisory circular detailing best practices for ENG operations.

  8. Require the installation of a crash-resistant flight recorder system on all newly manufactured turbine-powered, non-experimental, nonrestricted-category aircraft that are not equipped with a flight data recorder and are operating under Federal Aviation Regulations Parts 91, 121, or 135. (Supersedes Safety Recommendation A 03 62)

  9. Require all existing turbine-powered, non-experimental, nonrestricted-category aircraft that are not equipped with a cockpit voice recorder and are operating under Federal Aviation Regulations Parts 91, 121 or 135 to be retrofitted with a crash-resistant flight recorder system. (Supersedes Safety Recommendation A 03 64)

  10. Require all existing turbine-powered, non-experimental, nonrestricted-category aircraft that are not equipped with a flight data recorder and are operating under Federal Aviation Regulations Parts 91, 121, or 135 to be retrofitted with a crash-resistant flight recorder system. (Supersedes Safety Recommendation A 03 65)

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