On January 25 the NTSB Office of Aviation Safety presented a special investigation report on EMS and helicopter EMS (HEMS) operations, attributing a number of EMS accidents to the safety deficiencies allegedly inherent in the less stringent Part 91 rules, which are in place when no patients or organs are on board. The agency invested 3,500 man hours investigating the 55 most recent accidents, 35 of which occurred without patients aboard.
Controlled flight into terrain
In the wake of an NTSB recommendation that urges the use of terrain awareness and warning systems (TAWS) in aeromedical helicopter operations, the technology appears to be getting a closer look from the rotorcraft community.
Piper PA-31T1, Graham, Texas, Nov 12, 2001–The NTSB determined the probable cause was the pilot’s failure to discontinue the approach after encountering IMC, resulting in controlled flight into terrain. Contributing factors were the dark night condition, low ceilings and reduced visibility.
L-3 Avionics Systems, the former Goodrich subsidiary that produces the well known Stormscope and Skywatch lines of cockpit safety systems, last month introduced a new class-B terrain awareness and warning system (TAWS) that the company said will have a list price of $12,500.
New tools exist to prevent those accidents that most worry safety experts.
Honeywell last month announced that it has delivered more than 30,000 enhanced ground proximity warning systems (EGPWS), placing the safety gear in rarefied air among the top sellers of all time in stand-alone avionics units.
Test pilots from NASA and Gulfstream this summer are flying
a GV equipped with a synthetic-vision system (SVS) intended to improve pilot situational awareness and prevent CFIT accidents. NASA is using the airplane to explore advanced vision and runway-incursion technologies that could one day be brought to civil aviation.
Sikorsky plans to make Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning Systems (EGPWS) standard equipment on all future production S-76s and S-92s. A Sikor-sky and Honeywell team originally developed EGPWS for helicopter applications using the S-76, and after FAA approval in 2001 it was listed as an option for the model.
Switzerland’s Federal Bureau of Air Accident Investigation, known as the BFU, identified pilot error as the cause of a Crossair Avro RJ100 accident on Nov. 24, 2001, near Bassersdorf, Switzerland, during an approach to Zurich Airport. However, investigators also pointed to external deficiencies at other levels.
Honeywell has been exploring synthetic-vision system (SVS) technology for the helicopter cockpit, but the display concept will bear little resemblance to the system the company unveiled last summer for fixed-wing applications.