Archive for March, 2014

Final Ruling on Helicopter Safety by the FAA

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)  issued a final rule in Feb 2014 that requires helicopter operators, including air ambulances, to have stricter flight rules and procedures, improved communications, training, and additional on-board safety equipment. The rule represents the most significant improvements to helicopter safety in decades and responds to government’s and industry’s concern over continued risk in helicopter operations.

“This is a landmark rule for helicopter safety,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx.  “These improvements will better prepare


Airmen beware – The FAA has made several unannounced changes to three different airman knowledge tests

pilots and better equip helicopters, ensuring a higher level of safety for passengers and crew.”

All U.S. helicopter operators, including air ambulances, are required to use stricter flying procedures in bad weather. This will provide a greater margin of safety by reducing the probability of collisions with terrain, obstacles or other aircraft.

Within 60 days, all operators will be required to use enhanced procedures for flying in challenging weather, at night, and when landing in remote locations. Within three years, helicopter air ambulances must use the latest on-board technology and equipment to avoid terrain and obstacles, and within four years, they must be equipped with flight data monitoring systems.

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“This rule is a significant advancement in helicopter safety,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.  “This rule will help reduce risk and help pilots make good safety decisions through the use of better training, procedures, and equipment.”

Under the new rule, all Part 135 helicopter operators are required to:

  • Equip their helicopters with radio altimeters.
  • Have occupants wear life preservers and equip helicopters with a 406 MHz Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) when a helicopter isConsidering Becoming an Ag Pilot? Thoughts on Aerial Application operated beyond power-off glide distance from the shore.
  • Use higher weather minimums when identifying an alternate airport in a flight plan.
  • Require that pilots are tested to handle flat-light, whiteout, and brownout conditions and demonstrate competency in recovery from an inadvertent encounter with instrument meteorological conditions.

In addition, under the new rule, all air ambulance operators are required to:

  • Equip with Helicopter Terrain Awareness and Warning Systems (HTAWS).
  • Equip with a flight data monitoring system within four years.
  • Establish operations control centers if they are certificate holders with 10 or more helicopter air ambulances.
  • Institute pre-flight risk-analysis programs.
  • Ensure their pilots in command hold an instrument rating.
  • Ensure pilots identify and document the highest obstacle along the planned route before departure.
  • Comply with Visual Flight Rules (VFR) weather minimums, Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) operations at airports/heliports without weather reporting, procedures for VFR approaches, and VFR flight planning.
  • Conduct the flight using Part 135 weather requirements and flight crew time limitation and rest requirements when medical personnel are on board.
  • Conduct safety briefings or training for medical personnel.

Since August 2004, the FAA has promoted initiatives to reduce risk for helicopter air ambulance operations (See FAA Fact Sheet). While

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accidents did decline in the years following that effort, 2008 proved to be the deadliest year on record with five accidents that claimed 21 lives. The FAA examined helicopter air ambulance accidents from 1991 through 2010 and determined 62 accidents that claimed 125 lives could have been mitigated by today’s rule. While developing the rule, the FAA considered 20 commercial helicopter accidents from 1991 through 2010 (excluding air ambulances) that resulted in 39 fatalities. From 2011 through 2013, there were seven air ambulance accidents resulting in 19 fatalities and seven commercial helicopter accidents that claimed 20 lives.

The estimated cost of the final rule in present value for the air ambulance industry is $224 million with a total benefit of $347 million over 10 years. The cost for other commercial operators is $19 million with a total benefit of $83 million over 10 years.  There is no cost for any operators to use new Class G airspace weather minimums for visual flying but the benefit is $147 million over 10 years.

The rule responds to the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 and National Transportation Safety Board recommendations.

Read the FAA Final Rule on Helicopter Air Ambulance, Commercial Helicopter, and Part 91 Helicopter

HELI-EXPO 2014 – A Heli of a Show

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

HELI-EXPO 2014 conveyed a clear message:
Helicopter Aviation is Strong

by Justin Landis & G.Roginson

The World’s largest helicopter exposition, HELI-EXPO 2014, is on the books and it was a big show for many of the majorHAI HELI-EXPO 2014 companies in attendance. The Helicopter Association International holds the annual show and HAI HELI-EXPO 2014, this year in Anaheim California. From big awards to new aircraft, the show made headlines for those interested in helicopter flight training.

A positive Matt Zuccaro, president of HAI, gave a welcoming speech on the eve of HELI-EXPO 2014 that was optimistic concerning the helicopter industry. “Air tours are doing well, corporate operations have re-established themselves and offshore oil and gas work is very busy right now, so it’s a pretty positive picture.” While addressing the industries potential pilot and mechanic shortages, Matt stated, “The younger generation has so many options, we’re starting a sales and marketing campaign to show them being a pilot or mechanic is a good career path.”

We’ve certainly addressed the ongoing news concerning pilot shortages here at and it seems the industry is continuing to recognize the need for young people to take up the cause and move into a career in aviation. We look forward to reporting on this marking campaign in the future.

Bell’s New 505 Jet Ranger X

Bell Helicopter took the prime opportunity of day one to unveil three versions of the new Bell 505 Jet Ranger X. The 505 is Bell’s response to the increasing global demand for a short light single (SLS) helicopter and the success of the Robinson R66 light turbine’s success. Robinson delivered 191 R66s last year and is on track to deliver over 200 this year. “We recognize that the customer base for light singles is spread across the globe, and our focus has been around costs and useful load. With that in mind we have come up with a design that will allow us to be competitive in the important value parameters our customers are looking for,” Bell SLS program management chief Paul Watts reports.

The Bell 505 Jet Ranger X has been designed to hold one pilot and 4 occupants but with two cyclics to be installed, the 505 could become a competitive option to the R66 in initial turbine training. Bell’s president and CEO John Garrison states that the 505 “targets a very price sensitive market and the price point for the new helicopter is around $1 million,” that’s slightly above the price point of the Robinson R66 at approximately $830,000. The first flight is slated for later 2014.

Watch the unveiling of the Bell 505 here

Helicopter Flight Simulation Emerges at HELI-EXPO 2014

X-Copter helicopter flight simulator

X-Copter flight simulator

Helicopter flight simulation was another big topic at HELI-EXPO, as reported in the AIN Online article  and Vertical Magazine Article.  Most noteworthy was the launch of the newest helicopter flight simulator on the market, the “X-Copter”.

The X-Copter helicopter flight simulator is an eighth generation flight simulator that has been in development since 2006 and the core component of the nationally recognized “Flight Cost Reduction Training” program at Guidance Aviation. Engineered for the primary flight training market, the X-Copter simulates the Robinson R22 and R44 models.

X-Copter’s full-scale cockpit includes two high resolution touch screen monitors displaying instrumentation, realistic controls with tactile vibration cues, and an outside view delivered by three 60″ high definition screens providing incredibly crisp visuals.

The touch screen technology in the cockpit delivers advanced avionics simulations for Glass Cockpit applications with accurate representations of Garmin G500H, Garmin GNS 530/430 WAAS, and Aspen EFD1000H using SimAVIO2 from FTS. X-Copter is fully integrated to enable seamless integration with ForeFlight Mobile providing geo-referencing data via Wifi.  The X-Copter website is currently in development and will soon be viewable at .

HELI-EXPO 2014 ran Tuesday, Feb 25th – Thurs, Feb 27th, 2014 and will no doubt continue to bring news headlines to the helicopter industry. As we continue to keep abreast of  the industry and aviation, we’ll be sure to stay on top of any news that will support your decisions toward a career in aviation.

For Fun

For fun, check out “Transforming the Halls for Helicopter: HELI-EXPO 2014”:

Are You Ready to Become A Helicopter Pilot?