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Night Helicopter EMS (HEMS) Operations Safety Paul M. Schaaf, Chief Pilot Fairfax County Police Helicopter Division (Click the mouse to start presentation)

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Presentation on theme: "Night Helicopter EMS (HEMS) Operations Safety Paul M. Schaaf, Chief Pilot Fairfax County Police Helicopter Division (Click the mouse to start presentation)"— Presentation transcript:

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2 Night Helicopter EMS (HEMS) Operations Safety Paul M. Schaaf, Chief Pilot Fairfax County Police Helicopter Division (Click the mouse to start presentation)

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5 Excerpt from FAA NOTICE N A preliminary review of the commercial HEMS accidents from January 1998 through December 2004 revealed that CONTROLLED FLIGHT INTO TERRAIN (CFIT), INADVERTENT FLIGHT INTO INSTRUMENT METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS (IMC), AND LACK OF OPERATIONAL CONTROL are predominant factors, particularly at night and during low visibility conditions.

6 Excerpt from FAA NOTICE N Continued Of the 27 fatal HEMS accidents, 21 occurred during night operations. Of the 21 night accidents, 16 of the operations originated under visual flight rules (VFR); the pilots inadvertently flew into IMC conditions, resulting in a CFIT accident.

7 Three Steps to Safety Break the VFR/IFR wall Break the VFR/IFR wall Train, Equip and Change the Culture Change standard vertical flight profiles Change standard vertical flight profiles Acceptance and deployment of Night Vision Goggles Acceptance and deployment of Night Vision Goggles Instrument Rating HELICOPTER pilot IFRSKILLSIFRSKILLS YEARS IN CAREER

8 Accepting Reality Accepting Reality –Unpredictable and unknown flight conditions will remain a factor in HEMS missions. –HEMS pilots will continue to accept VFR missions that cannot be completed safely in VMC. Dealing with Reality Dealing with Reality –VFR HEMS pilots must be capable and confident in IMC. –VFR HEMS operators must equip helicopters for inadvertent IMC and train pilots accordingly. –Pilots must unhesitatingly fly their company’s IMC recovery plan when necessary without fear of reprimand. #1- Breaking the VFR/IFR Wall

9 Train for IMC Conduct Instrument Proficiency Checks every six months utilizing 2/2/20 aircraft control standards Conduct Instrument Proficiency Checks every six months utilizing 2/2/20 aircraft control standards Require pilots to perform routine instrument approaches for procedural proficiency Require pilots to perform routine instrument approaches for procedural proficiency HELICOPTER pilot Instrument Rating IFRSKILLSIFRSKILLS YEARS IN CAREER #1- Breaking the VFR/IFR Wall Train, Equip and Change the Culture

10 “2, 2 and 20” Maneuver Maintain straight-and-level flight: heading within 2 degrees, airspeed within 2 knots and altitude within 20 feet (for at least 2 minutes). Maintain straight-and-level flight: heading within 2 degrees, airspeed within 2 knots and altitude within 20 feet (for at least 2 minutes). In visual conditions – no view limiting device required In visual conditions – no view limiting device required Commercial Pilot Standards2,2 and 20 Standards

11 Equip Aircraft for IMC Ensure aircraft and have basic instruments, communication and navigation radios and MELs written accordingly Ensure aircraft and have basic instruments, communication and navigation radios and MELs written accordingly Consider installation of hand-held GPS system with terrain, obstacles and GPS driven flight instruments Consider installation of hand-held GPS system with terrain, obstacles and GPS driven flight instruments #1- Breaking the VFR/IFR Wall Train, Equip and Change the Culture

12 Change the Culture of IMC Fear Place emphasis on instrument flying as a core pilot skill – especially VFR-only operators. Place emphasis on instrument flying as a core pilot skill – especially VFR-only operators. Issue an appropriate policy statement supporting pilots that reject low altitude “scud-running” and elect safer emergency IFR alternatives. Issue an appropriate policy statement supporting pilots that reject low altitude “scud-running” and elect safer emergency IFR alternatives. #1- Breaking the VFR/IFR Wall Train, Equip and Change the Culture

13 #2- Change Vertical Profiles Establish night time vertical take-off to at least 100 feet AGL when OGE performance is available Establish night time vertical take-off to at least 100 feet AGL when OGE performance is available Establish night time 1,000 foot AGL minimum enroute Establish night time 1,000 foot AGL minimum enroute 100 Ft AGL 1000 Ft AGL minimum H 500 Ft AGL – Common enroute altitude 90 th Percentile US Obstruction50 th Percentile

14 #3- Night Vision Goggles NVGs are a safety enhancement that will reduce CFIT incidents and night time inadvertent IMC. NVGs are a safety enhancement that will reduce CFIT incidents and night time inadvertent IMC. Make possible the performance of certain night time operations resulting in increased productivity and revenue Make possible the performance of certain night time operations resulting in increased productivity and revenue

15 #3- Night Vision Goggles Significant improvements in last decade Significant improvements in last decade –Acuity increased –Halo effect reduced –Adaptability to bright and changing light conditions Aircraft exterior lighting changes are not necessary (search light, landing lights, etc) Aircraft exterior lighting changes are not necessary (search light, landing lights, etc) STC standards for cockpit lighting are based on older generation goggles and should be reviewed – a totally NVG compatible cockpit is no longer necessary! STC standards for cockpit lighting are based on older generation goggles and should be reviewed – a totally NVG compatible cockpit is no longer necessary!

16 Summary HEMS pilots should be encouraged to develop and maintain their instrument flying as a core pilot skill. HEMS pilots should be encouraged to develop and maintain their instrument flying as a core pilot skill. Helicopters flying HEMS missions at night must be equipped for emergency IMC. Helicopters flying HEMS missions at night must be equipped for emergency IMC. Our culture and standards should discourage low-level “scud-running” over safer, well thought out alternatives. Our culture and standards should discourage low-level “scud-running” over safer, well thought out alternatives. Helicopter pilots should fly higher – especially at night. Helicopter pilots should fly higher – especially at night. NVGs should be used by all HEMS operators working at night. NVGs should be used by all HEMS operators working at night. Aviation authorities should work to facilitate this goal by re-evaluating standards for certification and addition to Part 135 operations specifications. Aviation authorities should work to facilitate this goal by re-evaluating standards for certification and addition to Part 135 operations specifications.

17 Thank you! Please contact me with questions via at:


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