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Thursday, March 1, 2012

IHST Teams with Russia, Holds Safety Town Hall

Compiled by Rotor & Wing staff

Viktor Ruklinski announces the CIS’ intent to partner with IHST. Photo by Chris Sheppard

During Heli-Expo, the International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST) held a town hall meeting open to all pilots, safety managers and anyone interested in helicopter safety issues. Attendees raised a number of concerns, including the lighting on wind towers and heliports that is currently invisible to night vision goggles (NVGs) in LED green, blue and red. Infrared transmitters are being fielded for placement on towers, but until then flight crews are forced to look under goggles.

The recent decision to allow unmanned aerial vehicles to fly in the National Airspace and the risk it will pose to general aviation was also addressed. A joint task force has been formed between the U.S. Air Force and FAA, and the group is currently working on the issue.

Pilots who have experienced intermittent GPS signal interruptions during flight also voiced their opinions.

IHST stated that there are a number of visual devices under production that can identify wires several thousand meters in front of the aircraft and display them for early detection by aircrews. Another device in development would allow pilots to transition from IFR to VFR in live time and use the visual display to land the aircraft.

Several pilots at the town hall mentioned they would like to have a central website to access and identify tower light status that is not shown on Notams. IHST representatives said they will address all of these issues.

Following the Town Hall, IHST announced an agreement with Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) to create IHST-CIS. The CIS is comprised of Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. After studying similar organizations in Europe and the U.S., Viktor Ruklinski, director of the CIS Interstate Aviation Committee, said the group elected to partner with IHST.

“We’ve chosen the direction we want our [organization] to work, based on the experience of IHST,” said Ruklinski, adding that the IHST-CIS initiative has been presented to the aviation administrations of the region for their support. After a year, the IHST-CIS plans to present a report on what the organization has been able to achieve in lowering the helicopter accident rate in Russia and the CIS.

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