Wichita-based emergency medical transport operator EagleMed achieved Level 3 of the FAA’s safety management system on July 7. EagleMed president Larry Bugg said, “We are committed to every practice and principle of SMS and are determined to achieve SMS Level 4 status, which represents the pinnacle of aviation safety.” EagleMed is one of two FAA Part 135 certificate holders in the FAA’s Central Region to achieve Level 3 status.
I’ve written periodically about FAA enforcement and what I consider to be abuses of the process, along with sanctions that are significantly disproportionate to the safety impact of the offenses charged.
As the aviation sector awaits the FAA’s final rule on the safety management systems (SMS) process, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) has looked more closely at the status of SMS implementation, as well as at some of the key challenges the FAA and industry face in completing that implementation. The agency’s air traffic organization is currently the only FAA group that has completed the SMS implementation process, although five other agency organizations are finalizing their efforts.
The FAA has extended the expiration date of the final rule requiring civil helicopter pilots to use the New York North Shore Helicopter Route when flying VFR along the north shore of Long Island. The current rule was scheduled to expire on August 6 this year but the FAA extended it for two more years to preserve the current operating environment while it determines whether use of the route should be permanently mandatory.
One hundred International Civil Aviation Organization member states and nine international organizations agreed on April 7 to adopt new protocols to the 1963 Tokyo Convention related to offenses committed aboard aircraft. ICAO said the agreement was reached after four years of work focused on the increased frequency of incidents involving disruptive and unruly passengers on scheduled commercial flights.
Crownair Aviation at Montgomery Field in San Diego, Calif., has selected Baldwin Aviation Safety & Compliance of Hilton Head, S.C., to develop its IS-BAO-based safety management systems. The FBO/MRO employs 35 people and, according to the company, it has made it a strategic goal to further develop its positive safety culture. “We look forward to working with Baldwin Aviation to achieve this goal,” said David Ryan, the company’s president and CEO.
Top FAA regulators justified the new omnibus helicopter safety rule at February’s Heli-Expo convention. John Duncan, director of FAA flight standards, and Kim Smith, manager of the rotorcraft directorate, said the new rule is necessary in light of a recent surge in helicopter accidents, and they are confident that it will contribute to a significant reduction in the accident rate.
The FAA has released its long-awaited omnibus helicopter rule governing emergency medical services (EMS), Part 135 and Part 91 procedures, operations, training and testing and required equipment. The agency estimates that the new rule is expected to cost operators $311 million to implement over the next decade. It closely mirrors the FAA’s notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) released in 2010.
On February 20, the FAA issued a far-reaching final rule that will require helicopter operators, including air ambulance services, to abide by stricter flight rules and procedures that better prepare both pilots and helicopters for safer operations. Within 60 days, all operators will be required to use enhanced procedures for flying in challenging weather, at night, and when landing in remote locations.
The FAA has pushed out, from 4 p.m. until approximately 5 p.m., the start of an eight-nautical-mile-wide TFR centered over MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on Super Bowl Sunday. From that time until an hour after the end of the game, no general aviation flights will be allowed to enter the TFR ring below 18,000 feet. From noon until 5 p.m., a one-nautical-mile-wide TFR with a minimum altitude of 3,000 feet will be imposed around the stadium.
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