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Recent Articles
Safety — Where Do the Owner/Operators and Their Management Team Fit In?

By Matt Zuccaro - As you are aware, safety is my favorite topic, as I believe it ultimately affects everything we do in our industry — both in the present and for the future. With this in mind, you would think all owner/operators would have a laser focus on this issue, making it their number one decision criteria. In a perfect world that would be true, but last time I checked not everything we want occurs in the bright reality of day-to-day operations. However, it does not have to be that way.


J.R. Aviation is the leading helicopter operator and flight academy in the Midwest, and has been proudly serving the Greater Louisville area since 1992. We offer training for all FAA Certificates and Ratings, from Private through CFII and ATP. We offer flexible scheduling as well as some of the best training in the country in both ground and flight training. Our training is even more enhanced by one-on-one ground and flight training. This gives our students the full attention of the Certified Flight Instructors (CFI’s), and the ability to move at their own pace and learning style. Our CFI’s are highly experienced not only as instructors but in Commercial Operations as well.  We strive to teach our students a greater technical understanding of what is going on in the helicopter. This teaches the student to anticipate, rather than react to aerodynamic issues with the aircraft. We stress the importance of energy and power management, rules and regulations and what is the right and smart thing to do.

By Jenna Shepard - There are two main threats to EMS helicopter pilots – weather and darkness, but this really shouldn’t come as a surprise. In 1988, the National Transportation Safety Board investigated 59 helicopter emergency medical services accidents and concluded that low visibility, often caused by poor weather conditions accounted for 61% of all crashes. Since then, little has changed.Although the commercial aviation industry requires that an aircraft be outfitted with everything from weather tracking technologies like onboard radar and GPS to collision avoidance tools, these same requirements are not made of the medical helicopter industry. Furthermore, at a time when air medical companies are being scrutinized due to the sheer number of EMS helicopter crashes and a lack of critical onboard technologies not yet mandated by the FAA, one company is making big strides in the right direction by focusing on weather safety.

By Kerry Sullivan - The article by Susan Parson in the March issue titled “Personal Minimums: A Development Guide” provides a systematic way for pilots to determine realistic safety margins for weather. The EMS operator I fly for requires its pilots to develop their own personal weather minimums which are to be more restrictive than those contained in the Operations Specifications. I have found more restrictive minimums necessary because I do not believe the generally used weather minimums are adequate to keep me out of Inadvertent Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IIMC). Despite strict weather minimums, detailed weather products and annual training in weather and pilot decision making we still have all too-frequent incidents of IIMC. As we are all painfully aware, some of these IIMC occurrences result in fatal accidents.

Written & Video Feature: Advanced Helicopter Training with FlightSafety International 

By Lyn Burks - Having been in the helicopter industry for a little while, I have been fortunate enough to experience many levels of training. While recently attending an S76C++ transition course at FlightSafety International (FlightSafety), I am reminded of the stark differences between the "haves" and the "have nots."

My reference to "haves" and "have nots" is not meant to be deprecating to those who offer or attend helicopter training at traditional facilities. It’s really more of an analogy which notes the difference in the level of training provided by FlightSafety as compared to other training providers I have experienced. The present model of our training industry is what it is, and this article will not change it.



I used to laugh at the chopper jockeys
And those things they travel in
I joked about how slow they are
And the way they pound the wind.
Some o' the guys got hoppin' mad
Guess it hit a sour note
Especially one called "Shorty"
Man, I always got his goat.

By Lyn Burks - In previous career development articles we left off with the importance of the resume, along with several tips for “spooling up” your resume to a higher level of professionalism. Assuming you did everything right and your resume has convinced the hiring authority that you may be the person for the job; you may now be facing a new hurdle. The phone interview.

By Brad McNally - Frank Nicolas Piasecki was born in Philadelphia on October 24, 1919. From a young age he was fascinated with aviation and spent his spare time building models and reading aviation magazines. When he was seven years old his father paid for him to go flying with a barnstormer and he got his first ride in an airplane. In high school he was president of his school’s aero club and was able to gain an introduction into the Philadelphia aviation industry that few people his age could acquire.

By Ron Whitney - Have you ever witnessed something so extraordinary, so surprising, and so incredible that you just had to sit back and ask yourself, “Did I really just see that?” Have you ever been around when a normal, routine flight operation went bad, nearly tragically bad? Have you ever had the opportunity to see a side of a coworker that you really did not expect to? Well, I have. The subject of this Pilot Profile piece, somewhat reluctantly, is a man I met many, many years ago while we were Instructor Pilots at Ft. Rucker, Paul Richtmyer.

By Brad McNally - Contributing Editor - In the late 1930’s and early 1940’s few people could see the helicopter as much more than an overly complex novelty incapable of being of any real value. It took a small group of enthusiastic and determined men to make helicopter flight possible and another small group of men with an equal amount of determination and enthusiasm to make helicopter flight practical. Leading this second group was a Coast Guard officer named Frank Erickson. His vision and resolve were born out of one of the darkest days in American history; after which he made developing the helicopter into a practical tool for search and rescue his lifelong goal. His foresight and perseverance in the face of many seemingly insurmountable obstacles and persistent naysayers left an indelible mark on the history of the helicopter.

While a number of members of the National EMS Pilots Association have been involved and have made contributions to NEMSPA’s activities through years, the strength of numbers continues to be a challenge for this EMS pilot’s professional organization. Regardless of the number of awards obtained, initiatives launched and regulatory actions influenced, we believe we that our effectiveness will not rise to the level that we all need and desire so long as there are so many EMS pilots who choose not to be involved, in some way or another, with the workings of the association that represents them on a daily basis.

As a broker of used Robinson Helicopters, I receive two or three calls a day from prospective sellers and buyers inquiring as to the state of the market. My response is always the same: the market is active but depressed. While this may seem like a contradiction, it means that while there are still many buyers out there with the funds and desire to buy, they expect to pay much less than they would have paid just nine or ten months ago. Where a helicopter would have sold quickly for $375,000 last summer, the highest offer I might receive on the same ship today is $315,000. The result is that there are a lot of ships for sale, a lot of buyers making very low offers, and very few sales taking place.

By Dave Hardin - If you walk into the AeroAmbulancia hangar at the La Isabella Airport you’ll meet up with the first HEMS company to be certified to operate in the Dominican Republic (DR). If they’re not out on a flight, you’ll shake hands with some of the finest professionals in the business. Such was my honor over the past year as I’ve watched these folks get their Helicopter EMS (HEMS) operation up and running. AeroAmbulancia is a part of the Helidosa Aviation Group who has been in the helicopter tour business for quite a few years. Their country has adopted the U.S. FAA standards for operations conducted under Part 135. AeroAmbulancia was the first in the history of the DR to receive Operations Specifications for Helicopter EMS Operations.

Generally, accidents are not the result of any one single event, but the product of several. My view is that every flight must pass through several gates in sequential order for the accident to happen — the final gate being the pilot. Logically, we as pilots have the final opportunity to prevent an accident.

If you haven’t heard of WAAS or Wide Area Augmentation System, it’s, probably fair to say you have been living in a cave. After all, the FAA “certified” WAAS in 2003. Or if you have heard of WAAS but don’t know the in’s and out’s because of the intimidation of learning something new - fear no more!

The Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) is the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) plan to modernize the National Airspace System (NAS) through 2025. Through NextGen, the FAA is addressing the impact of air traffic growth by increasing NAS capacity and efficiency while simultaneously improving safety, reducing environmental impacts, and increasing user access to the NAS. To achieve its NextGen goals, the FAA is implementing new Performance-Based Navigation (PBN) routes and procedures that leverage emerging technologies and aircraft navigation capabilities.

For those law enforcement agencies that operate in cold weather environments, winter adds dangers we must consider before launching.

Winter brings a combination of high moisture content and cold temperatures that pose a threat of engine, airframe, and blade icing. During day and night operations, snow and ice become significant threats in many ways.

In November of 2008, a helicopter flight training school in Broomfield, Colorado, received their part 141 Certification, a designation earned through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The process of writing a standardized curriculum, training the Certified Flight Instructors (CFIs), and upgrading classroom facilities was rigorous, but the owners and instructors at this school were convinced that the benefits they would receive through certification would far out-weigh the heavy workload necessary to get there. They anticipated that their students would qualify for career training loans at a variety of banks and lending institutions, that the State of Colorado would allow access to training grants and loans available, and that ultimately federal grants and loans would be available to students who qualify through the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1956.

It didn’t take long for those beliefs to be shattered.

‘You the Pilot?
(Would you ever want to deny it?) By Dorcey (Captain Methane) Wingo

I vividly recall, while enduring the Army’s primary helicopter flight training, that to a man, we were so proud to be pilots! Well, not exactly yet, since we were still just a gaggle of lowly Warrant Officer Candidates and our silver wings were many months away, if ever.

Why you don't make any money! By Willie Dykes

Foreword: The article is a little raw. It is an attempt to describe a 37 year love/hate relationship with this industry. The open-endedness is deliberate. Though it's a little hard to see in the exchanges contained in online forums, I have found helicopter pilots to be among the most intelligent, clear thinking, and broad minded people on the planet. They don't need to be told what to do. This problem of ours needs all the creativity and energy we can muster from the boys. If the discussion/debate is kept loud and noisy, the solution will emerge-usually from the least likely source. Your site is the best thing we have going for us. Power to the people.

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