AAMS Pushes Mandated NVGs, IFR for Helo EMS

 - January 27, 2009, 10:15 AM

The Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS) is recommending the FAA mandate night vision goggles, enhanced vision systems or IFR-only operations for all night flights of EMS helicopters. The recommendations come on the heels of nine fatal helicopter EMS (HEMS) accidents since December 2007 and one week before the NTSB is scheduled to hold what promises to be highly charged public hearings related to those accidents and overall HEMS safety. AAMS also wants the FAA to mandate recording devices and prioritize and accelerate the implementation of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) infrastructure to HEMS operating environments and implementation of associated weather reporting and communications enhancements. The FAA also is encouraged to produce materials for community emergency response services and medical facilities within the operating area of an air medical service to address issues of “helicopter shopping” and study flight crew fatigue factors. AAMS seeks congressional approval to make AIP money available for the construction of HEMS heliports, low-level special IFR-GPS routes and approaches and AWOS at hospital heliports. The association also recommended that all HEMS operations (commercial and government) be conducted under Part 135 and that all operators adopt flight operations quality assurance programs.