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To help insure that pilots are fit to fly those

late-in-the-shift flights, many air medical transport programs have been proactive in addressing and in monitoring fatigue issues in their operations, with a special focus on night operations. Every pilot in the program where I am employed is enrolled in a comprehensive rest and fatigue management course. The internet-based course, called Z-Coach , edu- cates crewmembers on the effects of fatigue, sleep- debt, and sleep inertia, and then provides individ- ualized guidance on strategies to minimize those effects. In addition to crewmember education, operational control specialists monitor the activities of aircrews throughout the night in order to divert flight requests away from a potentially fatigued crew whenever established parameters are met and alternate resources are available. This additional level of risk management operates as a complement to the formal risk assessment that the pilot performs prior to each flight.


A review of the NTSB accident investigation

dockets of medical helicopter accidents reveals that the majority of CFIT accidents occur at night or in

late-in-the-shift flights, many air medical trans- port programs have been proactive in addressing and in monitoring fatigue issues in their opera- tions, with a special focus on night operations.

bad weather, or in a combination of both. Experts on fatigue would agree that fatigue is necessarily a factor present in virtually all activities that


place on the “backside of the clock”. But, determin- ing how fatigued a crewmember was and how causal fatigue may have been to an accident or mishap is problematic, to say the least; especially if the determination must be made post-mortem!

(HTAWS) technology as the universal mitigation for the fact that pilots don’t see well in the dark or in the fog. But, every HEMS pilot with NVG experience that I have talked to has said that the wrong technology has been selected. In June of 2010, the FAA published a docu-


should be enough to acknowledge that fatigue is a legitimate concern that requires proactive attention and countermeasures, and then focus on what I believe both pilots and human factors experts will agree is the indisputable primary cause of CFIT accidents: the pilot just didn’t see it coming. In the Notice of Proposed Rule Making

under consideration, the FAA proposes to mandate helicopter terrain awareness and warning system

ment titled Fact Sheet – Helicopter Emergency Medical Service Safety. This document states that, “While the FAA is pursuing new rules that

support National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendations, aggressively

The Fact Sheet goes on to identify four areas

of “immediate focus” that the FAA will consider. One of the FAA’s immediate focus areas identified

the agency has promoted significant short-term

safety initiatives that do not require rulemak- ing.”

To help insure that pilots are fit to fly those

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