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After reviewing the new FAA rules unveiled this past February, I can’t help thinking the agency missed a golden opportunity to include a rule that would have significantly reduced the appalling accident rate seen over the past 35 years in our helicopter air ambulance industry

My Two Cents Worth

by Randy Mains

Here’s a question for you:  What’s the difference between a $14 million full-motion, level D flight simulator and a $500 couch?  As I was to find out, the answer to that question is … not a lot.

In the January 2014 issue of Rotorcraft Pro, there were several very well written and informative articles about flight simulators.  Lyn Burks, the editor-in-chief of Rotorcraft Pro, had written an article about his experience flying a S76 C+ flight sim at the CAE training center in Whippany, New Jersey.  Ryan Mason wrote an insightful article entitled “Trends in Helicopter Simulation.”  Reading those two articles reminded me of the couch, and what a wonderful training tool it is.

Personal Protective Equipment (Part Two)

By Dr. Dudley Crosson

This is the concluding part of our article on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) / Aviation Life Support Equipment (ALSE).  Last month we looked at the helmet.  Now I would like to consider all other components of what a flight crew should wear.

By Dr. Dudley Crosson

It doesn’t matter what you call it – Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or Aviation Life Support Equipment (ALSE) – it is all the same.  It is the equipment that the flight crew should be using to protect them from conditions that may occur during an accident.  It is common practice to utilize ALSE in the public safety and HEMS communities, but it is obvious that not all do so.

Perceptions of Safety
By Scott Skola

    Safety, safety, safety … with the full court press on safety these days, you would think that the rotorcraft industry would be at that much-revered “zero incidents and accidents” goal by now.  Unfortunately, we’re not.
    When you get down to it, what is safety?  Is it just an analytical state of mind, with a bunch of numbers and ratios proving its success?  Or does it also have a philosophical side, where perception and beliefs play a part in safety success?  The short answer—it’s both.  So, if a company wants no incidents and accidents—and every employee goes to work with the intention of not causing an incident or accident—why do we continue to come up short? 

My Two Cents Worth (Rotorcraft Pro February 2014 Issue) by Randy Mains

What does it mean to you to be a professional?  With that thought in mind, do you possess the attributes of a professional?  What do you think are essential qualities of a true professional?  Conversely, what qualities would you consider to be found in someone who is not a professional?  Considering what it takes to be professional – and unprofessional – will make you aware of what we all strive to be: a true professional in our chosen occupation.

My Two Cents Worth - Randy Mains

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a big fat red warning light on the instrument panel that would illuminate whenever we were putting our passengers and ourselves in harm’s way?  Well there is, but it’s not on the instrument panel – it’s in your head.

Research has shown that nearly 80% of all aircraft accidents in history have had an element of human error, which means it isn’t stick-and-rudder skills that are killing people – bad pilot decision-making is killing people.

Safety’s Hazard
By Scott Skola

Safety and helicopter maintenance have had a long – and interesting – relationship.  During the past two decades, safety has played an ever-increasing role and is now one of the primary influences on each and every task mechanics perform.

But can too much initiative in the name of safety have a more negative than positive effect in a maintenance environment?  Can safety actually become a hazard? 

"What you talk’n bout, Willis?”

No, this is not about removing basic safety procedures, nor regressing to the old days of bathing in MEK, or working 48 hours straight to change an S-76 transmission.  This topic focuses on the current shift to apply abstract safety initiatives directly into aircraft maintenance procedures. 

TAKE 5! A new idea
By Ian Robinson

CRM, ADM, BLA, BLA, BLA: What do they really mean? Lets get specific, look at ourselves, and discover if we are accident-prone.

Safety Introspection

We all work in inherently dangerous environments. Will you take a five-minute journey into self-discovery? If 65-80% of all aviation accidents are related to human error, let’s attack the statistics - We can learn from others.

My 2 Cents (December 2013)

Randy Mains

Six years after his historic flight, Orville Wright lost a friend in an aircraft accident.  He lamented, “What is needed is better judgment, rather than better skill.” 

    It’s been proven, whether flying single pilot or multi-crew, that faulty decision-making has caused far more aviation accidents than poor flying ability. 

    An element of crew resource management (CRM) examines nine hazardous attitudes and behaviors that can impede good judgement and decision-making. By identifying these behaviors and applying the anecdote to counteract them, you can break a vital link in the error chain and avoid having an incident or accident.

In its quest to bring the global helicopter accident rate to zero, the International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST) has analyzed more than 1,000 U.S. civil helicopter accidents and their causes. Having done so, the IHST’s investigators have come to two clear conclusions: (1) Helicopter accidents are ultimately caused by incorrect human decisions, and (2) the evidence shows that reducing the accident rate to zero is actually possible.

“After going through the NTSB investigations in detail, one thing has become obvious: No one has invented a new way to crash a helicopter,” says Matt Zuccaro, IHST co-chair and president of Helicopter Association International. “The reasons helicopters crashed ten years ago remain the same today, and all of their causes can be traced back to the people who flew, serviced, or managed the helicopters.”

It appears the Australians put a higher value on patient safety than our FAA, NTSB and even Congress.  That’s a pretty strong statement, isn’t it?  Let me tell you how I arrived at that conclusion.

When my article “The Power of CRM” appeared in the August 2013 issue of Rotorcraft Pro my wife, Kaye, and I were in Australia, flown there by the Aeromedical Society of Australasia so that I could deliver two keynote speeches at their 25th scientific meeting of HEMS operators. 

My first keynote address was entitled “US Aeromedical Accidents – What can Australasian HEMS learn from our Mistakes?”  On the second day I delivered a keynote address entitled “CRM in Aeromedical Operations - Why CRM/AMRM (Air Medical Resource Management) is Absolutely Vital to HEMS Safety.” 

Randy Mains:  My Two Cents Worth

The following is the beginning of my latest book, The Reluctant Activist.
I stood next to the helicopter’s tail plane, looking up in disbelief at the massive damage I’d done.  The accident was entirely my fault.  I knew I shouldn’t have been anywhere near a cockpit this morning.  My mind wasn’t focused on flight training, but I decided to fly anyway.  It was a stupid mistake.  The reality of knowing how badly I’d screwed up sickened me. As well as losing my wife to another man recently, it seemed likely I could now lose my job.  This was not turning out to be one of my better mornings.

Helicopter Emergency Medical Services And Weather Related Accidents

by Bryan Butler

Many organizations are looking at ways to help make the Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) safer.  The FAA is working with FAR Part 135 Operators along with Organization such as HAI, CAAMS and AAMT to bring in voluntary solutions.  One simple solution to help alleviate many of the night HEMS Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) accidents is by changing the night VFR visibility minimums for FAR Part 135 HEMS Operations.  But what should they be changed to?  To help determine that answer let us first look at the root cause of many of our fatal HEMS accidents since January 2000.

Aviation Specialties Unlimited
Night Vision – Business Vision
Article, Photos & Video by Lyn Burks

Helicopter flight training wearing Night Vision Goggles (NVG) is as exciting and interesting as any other new skill or technique that can be learned in a helicopter.  It’s right up there with learning touchdown autorotations!  The one and only buzzkill is that, as the name of the device suggests, you must be using them at night.  It’s all fun and games --- until your flight-training block is from 0200 – 0400.

White Hot: Adding a Thermal View with EVS
By Rick Adams

I was driving on the turnpike through western Massachusetts a number of years back, enroute to Boston, and the fog was thick. I should have pulled off and waited for better conditions, but I had a hotel reservation for that night and appointments the next morning. So I followed the only visual aids I had – the stripes on the side of the road and the taillights of the car in front of me. If the car ahead had gone off a cliff, well …

My 2 Cents Worth - Breaking the Error Chain

By Randy Mains

“This is stupid!”

What wonderful words to break the error chain.  I’ve certainly said it when I’ve been flying.  Like in bad weather when scud running, or doing anything in the air where I figured I probably shouldn’t be there.  “This is stupid,” can potentially be one of those simple, but brilliant, ideas designed to let you, the pilot, know it’s time to call it quits, go home, and thus prevent really scaring yourself and possibly having an accident.

Helicopter Pilot Insurance Coverage Trends
By Rick Lindsey

Helicopter accidents can result in property damage, death or catastrophic injuries.  When things go wrong, there is usually plenty of blame to go around.  Read the headlines today and you’ll see that millions of dollars have been awarded in liability lawsuits. 

Helicopter pilots are trained, highly skilled, cautious and careful professionals who understand the importance of being proactive by double-checking all systems, safety checks, and other factors when piloting a helicopter.  A pilot must be prepared to be thrust into a dangerous or unexpected situation at any moment and have the skills to react quickly.

CRM – The Last Line of Defense!

by Randy Mains

Imagine you’re an aviation doctor and you hold the cure to save lives in a deadly segment of helicopter aviation.  One day you learn that the FAA has finally mandated that all Part 135 operators must be administered this cure, or they cannot fly.  You gladly offer the cure, knowing it can save lives.  However, you soon discover that the parent (the helicopter company) of the patient (the flight crew) doesn’t want to give the full dose because of the added time and expense it takes to administer it.  So the helicopter company waters down the dose to near microscopic proportions, which satisfies the letter of the law, while successfully avoiding the spirit of the law.  But in their effort to save time and money, they render the cure totally useless.  It is my opinion that’s what’s happening in many HEMS programs.

Discussion: Some flight helmets may contain outdated components that don’t afford the same level of protection as updated components. Additionally, some manufactures are misrepresenting their products by stating that they meet military
specifications (milspec) or that they’re “exactly the same” as milspec helmets and related components. Wearing helmets that don’t meet the agency requirements is not only against DOI and USFS policy, it’s downright dangerous!

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