FAA Publishes Helo EMS Rule Changes

 - November 18, 2008, 11:03 AM

Late last week the FAA published long-awaited proposed revisions in the operations specification governing helicopter EMS (HEMS) flights under Part 135 with regard to flight planning, weather minimums and the use of night-vision goggles (NVG). The revisions specify that if a flight, or sequence of flights, includes a Part 135 segment, then all VFR segments of the flight must be conducted within the weather minimums and minimum safe cruise altitude determined in preflight planning. Pilots are required to identify a minimum safe cruise altitude during preflight planning by identifying and documenting obstructions and terrain along the planned flight path. HEMS pilots must also determine the minimum required ceiling and visibility to conduct the flight using the revised weather minimums, which vary depending on whether the flight is local or cross-country, in daylight or at night, the type of terrain and the equipment aboard. The revision also permits HEMS IFR operations at landing areas without weather reporting if an approved weather reporting source is located within 15 nm of the landing area or if an area forecast is available. The NVG revision sets weather minimums consistent with the aforementioned changes.