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NTSB Suggests Changes In Charitable Flights

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The NTSB has issued a safety recommendation (PDF) to the Air Care Alliance, urging them to make several changes in the way charitable medical flights are conducted. The recommendations stem from four accidents in 2007 and 2008, in which three pilots and five passengers were killed. The NTSB says the ACA should require its member groups to inform passengers that charitable flights are not conducted under the same rules as commercial flights. Also, the groups should develop training materials for their volunteer pilots and verify their currency before each flight. Rol Murrow, chairman, and Lindy Kirkland, director of the Air Care Alliance, said on Monday they share the NTSB's concerns and will take a leadership role in addressing them, not only with ACA members but all volunteer pilot groups.

The ACA said it is already working with the AOPA Air Safety Foundation to produce a Web-based interactive course that will address the safety guidance issues listed by the NTSB. In addition, "many volunteer pilot organizations have already taken measures in response to the accidents and ACA urges all the groups to re-examine their policies and procedures in light of the NTSB recommendations," the ACA said. The NTSB asked the ACA to respond to its recommendations within 90 days, and the ACA said it is already at work on that response. "The Air Care Alliance appreciates the NTSB's efforts and thoughtful recommendations and will cooperate fully in order to enhance the safety of volunteer pilot operations," the group's news release said.

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