FAA Proposes Mandatory HTaws for Helicopter EMS
This morning the FAA announced its long-awaited notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) regarding new equipment and operational and training requirements for the helicopter EMS industry. The proposed rule would mandate certain changes for all Part 135 operators–fixed wing or helicopter–as well as Part 91 and 135 helicopter operators. It would also rule would require medevac helicopters to be equipped with helicopter terrain awareness and warning systems (HTaws) and radio altimeters. HEMS operators would have to perform all operations under Part 135, including observance of crew rest and duty time restrictions, when medical personnel are on board, as well as amend operational requirements to include IFR operations at airports and heliports without weather reporting, procedures for VFR approaches and VFR flight planning. It would mandate instrument ratings for all helicopter EMS pilots and the establishment of operations control centers for any helo EMS operator with 10 or more helicopter air ambulances. The new rule would also change requirements for all Part 135 operators, including fixed wing, with a view to improving documentation of load manifests. All commercial helicopter operators would be required to equip their helicopters with radio altimeters, train and test pilots for ability to recover from flight into inadvertent IMC and revise IFR alternate weather minimums. Part 91 helicopter operators would be required to revise VFR weather minimums. The FAA estimates the rule would cost helicopter EMS operators $136 million and commercial operators $89 million. The comment period closes January 10.