New safety initiative takes first steps

 - September 21, 2006, 7:46 AM

At a briefing at February’s Heli-Expo in Dallas, members of the industry’s newly formed International Helicopter Safety Team briefed delegates on their strategy to drive an 80-percent improvement in rotorcraft safety statistics in the next 10 years. An FAA representative told AIN that a “one size fits all” or prescriptive approach to setting new standards would not work.

“There needs to be tailored initiatives for individual sectors,” he said. “If you look at cockpit aids, for example, there is no point in requiring a long-line specialist to carry TAWS (terrain awareness and warning system). He would be much better off with TCAS (traffic collision avoidance system). EMS pilots, on the other hand, certainly would [benefit from TAWS].

“We need to get operators involved in drawing up draft recommendations. National associations, regional or sector safety groups and even community Web sites such as (Professional Pilot’s Rumor Network) are a way of communicating with the grass roots and gathering ideas.

“The OEMs have a part to play as well. It’s good to see that MD Helicopters is to put wire-strike protection on its aircraft on the production line and has committed to doing more. Technology is now on our side–flight data recorders have advanced to the point where some weigh only four pounds, so installing them no longer means a significant weight penalty.”

Co-chairs of the new Joint Helicopter Safety Advisory Team are Jack Drake, HAI’s director of safety, and Mark Liptak from the FAA’s engine and propeller directorate. The American Helicopter Society will be performing much of the team’s coordinating work. In fact, the team’s next meeting will be held at that organization’s symposium in Phoenix next month.

NEW Distributor for Safe Flight

Scandinavian Avionics will distribute Safe Flight Instrument’s powerline detection system in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Germany, Greece, the Czech Republic and Malaysia. When “live” with electricity, power lines create a radiating electromagnetic field. Safe Flight’s detection system can sense this field from any direction and warn pilots if they approach it. When the device senses a field, it emits an unmistakable auditory alert, which increases in frequency as the helicopter gets closer to the live line. A red warning light also illuminates in the cockpit.