Insurers and FAA Proposing Helo EMS Changes

 - November 13, 2008, 12:03 PM

Earlier this week the NTSB announced that it would hold a three-day public hearing beginning February 3 to examine helicopter EMS (HEMS) accidents, and now insurers and the FAA also are taking action. Next week, executives from the top aviation insurers will convene in Dallas to discuss the issue and possible tightening of underwriting requirements. By the end of the month, the FAA plans to publish a proposed change in the operating specifications governing helicopter EMS flights under Part 135 in the Federal Register. While declining to offer exact details, an FAA spokeswoman told AIN that the changes would govern preflight planning and weather minimums. She said the changes had been developed in consultation with the helicopter EMS community. Longer term, she said that more sweeping changes, in the form of an NPRM governing helicopter EMS operations, could be issued by the FAA next year and that it likely would include radar altimeters and helicopter TAWS requirements. To date, there have been seven fatal EMS crashes in the U.S. this year.