Inaer Spain has won the tender issued by the Emergency Medical Service of Madrid for a four-year air ambulance contract with an option for a two-year extension. For the service, Inaer will operate an AgustaWestland AW109 and a Bell 412EP. It will provide four pilots, four copilots and four technicians. Both the crews and the helicopters will be based at Las Rozas and Lozoyuela heliports.
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is stepping up efforts to improve helicopter operational safety after adding this to its Most Wanted list of goals for increased awareness and advocacy.
In a January 14 statement, the NTSB said that between January 2003 and May 2013 there were 1,470 helicopter accidents, resulting in 477 fatalities and 274 serious injuries. The Board is concerned that helicopter accidents will continue to happen unless a concerted effort is made to improve the safety of rotary-wing operations.
A lack of understanding from rulemakers presents an impediment to the helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) sector, operators told the EASA at the agency’s rotorcraft symposium.
The output of information from regulators tops operators’ lists of concerns, according to Stefan Becker, head of corporate development at Swiss rescue organization Rega. Becker also spoke on behalf of the European Helicopter Association and the European HEMS and air ambulance committee. “It is impossible to read 900 pages in three or four weeks,” Becker said.
A little more than a month after Ontario’s provincially funded air ambulance service Ornge suffered a fatal crash, the Province’s coroner has released the results of a special investigation into 40 Ornge patient transport-related deaths between 2006 and 2012. Operational errors at Ornge contributed to eight of those deaths, according to the July report, which also made 25 recommendations to improve service at Ornge.
Mercy One helicopter emergency medical services at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, Iowa, one of the first HEMS operators certified to fly Waas low-level IFR routes, including approaches to local hospitals, recently added a second Waas-capable Bell 429 to its fleet. These IFR routes keep helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft from mixing in IFR airspace. Three of the hospital helipad approaches are Waas-based while another is an approach to a helipad in Stuart, Iowa, that is used as a rendezvous for helicopters and ground ambulances from surrounding counties.
The UK’s East Anglian Air Ambulance charity organization and its helicopter operator, Bond Air Services, have been allowed to fly emergency medical service missions at night, using night-vision goggles. The charity believes that it will be able to conduct approximately 30 percent more missions, helping an estimated 300 more patients a year. Special equipment also includes a powerline detection system.
A helicopter air ambulance belonging to Ontario’s provincially funded service, Ornge, crashed shortly after takeoff May 31, killing its four-man crew of two pilots and two flight paramedics. The 1980 Sikorsky S-76A took off from rural Moosonee along St. James Bay at 12:10 a.m. en route to the remote First Nation village of Attawapiskat for a patient pick-up. It crashed almost immediately after takeoff into a densely wooded area less than 3,000 feet off the airport and burned.
German air ambulance specialist Flight Ambulance International (Booth 1047) has named Abu Dhabi Airports Company’s Al Bateen Executive Airport as its preferred stopover airport in the Middle East region. Under the agreement, Al Bateen will host two Learjet 60s dedicated to air ambulance service and served by German Medical Teams. A Learjet 60 air ambulance can accommodate a medical team, one patient and two patient escorts and can carry critically ill patients between Abu Dhabi and anywhere in the world.
The Pilatus PC-12 turboprop single is gaining ground as a cost-effective alternative to helicopter air ambulances.
Nextant Aerospace announced its first special-mission configuration for its 400XT–an air ambulance interior conversion from Spectrum Aeromed–yesterday at ABACE. The $100,000 self-contained equipment package will enable operators to convert the jet’s interior from a VIP configuration to a critical-care environment, including advanced cardiac life support, in less than 30 minutes. Nextant also plans to develop more special-mission applications for the 400XT.