The FAA released proposed new regulations for charter operators on October 7, specifically targeting aeromedical services. There were 135 helicopter air ambulance accidents from 1992 through 2009, with 126 fatalities, and 75 commercial helicopter accidents with 88 fatalities (excluding air ambulances) during that period. The FAA estimates that the cost of compliance with the proposed rules will be $136 million for air ambulance operators and $89 million for commercial operators.
The rules would require air ambulance operators to add HTAWS, conduct all operations under Part 135, implement preflight risk analysis programs, conduct safety briefings for medical personnel, amend weather requirements and all pilots in command would be required to have instrument ratings. Additional requirements apply to non-air ambulance commercial operators, but all fixed- and rotary-wing Part 135 operators would have to prepare a load manifest for each flight and send it to the base of operations. See the full proposal at www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/rulemaking/recently_published/.