At a public hearing yesterday, the NTSB singled out Part 91 operations in a special study on helicopter and fixed-wing EMS accidents. Between 1994 and 2004, the number of accidents doubled, with 83 since 1998. Main accident causes are CFIT, inadvertent operation into IMC and spatial disorientation or lack of situational awareness in night operations.
Eurocopter AS 350 B3, Pilar, N.M., Jan. 29, 2005–The NTSB blamed the accident on the pilot’s failure to maintain control and his improper use of night-vision goggles (NVGs). His spatial disorientation, self-induced pressure to return the helicopter to its home base, lack of experience in the use of NVGs, use of exterior lights on a dark night, under overcast skies and against snow-covered terrain, were listed as contributing factors.
American Eurocopter’s training center at Grand Prairie, Texas, has won FAA Part 141 approval to offer training on night vision goggles (NVGs). The package provides initial and recurrent training, including lessons in unusual attitude recovery and how to deal with spatial disorientation, during both NVG and night urban flying.
In its January 10 final report on the fatal crash of a Cessna Caravan more than three years ago, the NTSB said there was “no evidence of an in-flight collision or breakup.” The Safety Board modified its factual report, which previously contained language that suggested the possibility of an in-flight collision, perhaps with a nearby FedEx DC-10, before it lost control and crashed on Oct. 23, 2002, killing the sole-occupant pilot.
At a public hearing last month, the NTSB singled out allegedly less safe Part 91 operations in a special study on helicopter and fixed-wing EMS accidents. EMS aircraft must operate under Part 135 when carrying patients, passengers and organs, but may fly under Part 91 when only authorized crewmembers are on board. Between 1994 and 2004, the number of EMS accidents doubled.
Eurocopter BO 105 CBS5, Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., Oct. 20, 2004–The NTSB blamed the helicopter accident on the pilot’s spatial disorientation and in-flight loss of control after encountering night IMC. A factor was the pilot’s decision to fly when IMC was forecast.
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