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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

NTSB Issues PED Safety Guidelines to FAA, Air Methods

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has published a total of nine new recommendations following the investigation of an August 2011 Eurocopter AS350 B2 crash in Mosby, Mo. Four people died in the accident. NTSB determined that four factors contributed to the crash—training, fatigue, the pilot being distracted from multitasking including sending personal text messages, and taking off with less fuel than needed, subsequently leading to the pilot to not make the necessary flight inputs to enter an autorotation.

The safety board sent a letter to FAA with seven recommendations and another with two for Air Methods, which was operating the AS350 for LifeNet. Central to the recommendations is prohibiting the use of cell phones and other portable electronic devices during pre-flight safety checks and ground operations, in addition to policies restricting use in flight. 

Safety Recommendations for FAA:

• Prohibit flight crewmembers in 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 and 91 subpart K operations from using a portable electronic device for nonoperational use while at their duty station on the flight deck while the aircraft is being operated.

• Require all 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121, 135, and 91 subpart K operators to incorporate into their initial and recurrent pilot training programs information on the detrimental effects that distraction due to the nonoperational use of portable electronic devices can have on performance of safety-critical ground and flight operations.

• Require all 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121, 135, and 91 subpart K operators to review their respective general operations manuals to ensure that procedures are in place that prohibit the nonoperational use of portable electronic devices by operational personnel while in flight and during safety-critical preparatory and planning activities on the ground in advance of flight.

• Inform pilots of helicopters with low inertia rotor systems about the circumstances of this accident, particularly emphasizing the findings of the simulator flight evaluations, and advise them of the importance of simultaneously applying aft cyclic and down collective to achieve a successful autorotation entry at cruise airspeeds.

• Revise the Helicopter Flying Handbook to include a discussion of the entry phase of autorotations that explains the factors affecting rotor rpm decay and informs pilots that immediate and simultaneous control inputs may be required to enter an autorotation.

• Require the installation of a crash-resistant flight recorder system on all newly manufactured turbine-powered, nonexperimental, nonrestricted-category aircraft that are not equipped with a flight data recorder and a cockpit voice recorder and are operating under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Parts 91, 121, or 135. The crash-resistant flight recorder system should record cockpit audio and images with a view of the cockpit environment to include as much of the outside view as possible, and parametric data per aircraft and system installation, all as specified in Technical Standard Order C197, “Information Collection and Monitoring Systems.”

• Require all existing turbine-powered, nonexperimental, nonrestricted-category aircraft that are not equipped with a flight data recorder or cockpit voice recorder and are operating under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Parts 91, 121, or 135 to be retrofitted with a crash-resistant flight recorder system. The crash-resistant flight recorder system should record cockpit audio and images with a view of the cockpit environment to include as much of the outside view as possible, and parametric data per aircraft and system installation, all as specified in Technical Standard Order C197, “Information Collection and Monitoring Systems.”

For Air Methods:

• Expand your policy on portable electronic devices to prohibit their nonoperational use during safety-critical ground activities, such as flight planning and preflight inspection, as well as in flight.

• Revise company procedures so that pilots are no longer solely responsible for nonroutine operational decisions but are required to consult with the Air Methods Operational Control Center for approval to accept or continue a mission when confronted with elevated risk situations, such as fuel-related issues and unplanned deviations. 

Related: Texting, Distracted Multitasking Factors in 2011 EMS Helicopter Crash

More: Helicopter EMS News

 

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