This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.
cannot provide either of those very important benefits to a visually unaided pilot. As an industry, HEMS pilots would agree that flying at night can be safe.

However, night flying does present its own challenges which can, and should be, mitigated using technologies such as HTAWS and NVG's. The FAA rec- ognized this in the current Operating Specification (OpSpec) A-021 Weather Minimums. A-021 places these technologies side-by-side in permitting reduced weather minimums for flight in uncontrolled airspace when either of those devices is in use. To mandate HTAWS for an entire sector of the commercial helicopter

industry while ignoring an alternate technology that is both less costly and more effective, is very puzzling to virtually every air medical helicopter pilot that I have interviewed on these issues. Essentially, it appears that the only time that HTAWS would have an advantage over night vision goggles would be when flying into conditions where the visibility is so degraded due to atmos- pheric obscuration that the pilot would be unable to see the terrain, even with the aid of NVG's; in other words, when the aircraft has entered inadvertent IMC conditions. We can acknowledge the value of HTAWS technology in such cases, but most HEMS pilots have difficulty in seeing HTAWS as more than a highly recommended technology, while the foregoing discussion of the benefits of NVG's leads us to believe that they should be recognized as the preferred technology for night HEMS operations. HEMS pilots agree with the statement that NVG's are not the silver bullet to cure CFIT accidents. But, with respect to a purely technological mitigation, it is the best bullet. And since there is no silver bullet, then I believe that a decision to make

any technology mandatory should also include some provision for granting exceptions for a HEMS provider where the geography of the area of opera- tion along with other formal conservative rules of operation present in their FAA-approved General Operations Manual would preclude a pilot from accepting or continuing a flight in conditions where CFIT or LOC (loss-of- control) accidents might occur. For many operators, the increased weather requirements required for un-aided flight may be all that is required for them to make the decision to use NVG's. And if such an exception is granted, then there should be a means for

managers and FAA Principal Operations Inspectors (POI's) to insure compli- ance with the internal rules, minimums, or other standards published in the operator’s GOM or OpSpecs to insure a high level of conservatism regard- ing minimum flight conditions. An operator granted the exception should be required to comply with the proposed recommendation, included in the NPRM, regarding the installation of LARS (light-weight aircraft recording sys- tem) along with a published procedure for monitoring and acting on the flight data gathered. That data will enable managers and POI's to insure compliance with the operating parameters used to justify the exemption. There are significant efforts currently being conducted in the air medical

transport industry to identify the root causes of HEMS accidents and also to identify and mitigate the pressures that may cause aircrews to push the limits of safe operations. In the meantime, the air medical transport community will continue to monitor the rumblings from Washington with a mixture of hope and concern. ◆

Bill Winn is the Safety Officer for Intermountain Life Flight in Salt Lake City and the General Manager for the National EMS Pilots Association. He also serves as a member of the OSI-HEMS

research group (see footnote). He served as an instructor pilot and night vision goggle instructor for 18 of his 27 years as a pilot for the US Army. He can be contacted at


Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52