NTSB Wants Safer Medical Flights

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The NTSB this week issued its annual list of "Most Wanted Safety Improvements," and topping the list for aviation: Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Flights, making the list for the first time. "Although the Board has issued recommendations to improve EMS safety, the FAA has not implemented the changes," the NTSB said. "In the last 11 months, there have been nine EMS accidents, resulting in 35 fatalities." The board also wants to improve runway safety by implementing better information and alerts, and requiring pilots to calculate landing distances based on current information. Other items on the list were better practices for flying in icing conditions, crew resource management training, and crew member fatigue. The board would also like to see widespread use of image recorders in cockpits, even in smaller aircraft that are not now required to have recording devices, to help in post-accident analyses.

One item that was on last year's list has been resolved -- "Eliminate Flammable Fuel/Air Vapors in Fuel Tanks on Transport Category Aircraft." The FAA enacted a rule in July that requires fuel/air mixtures in all fuel tanks to be below a prescribed flammability level for all newly manufactured aircraft that have more than 30 seats. "All of these safety-related issues highlighted in the Most Wanted List should be addressed promptly," said board chairman Mark Rosenker. "Though we are encouraged by progress being made, resulting in some items being removed from the list, several of these safety concerns have been on this list since its inception."