Our weekly survey of aviation news turned up an announcement of certification of the newest Airbus Helicopter, tighter rules regarding helicopter ambulance operators, an NTSB seminar on loss of control accidents and a new Pilot Welcome Center at Friday Harbor, Washington. Friday Harbor Airport, Washington announced the opening of its new Pilot Welcome Center in the northeast corner of the airport next to the guest tiedown area. Until now, Friday Harbor Airport lacked a facility to welcome pilots; however, thanks to a grant from the San Juan County Public Facilities Financing Assistance program there is now a place for pilots to rest, do flight planning, use restrooms, enjoy free wi-fi, or just relax on the front porch. On the regulatory front, new rulesissued by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration are expected to have a dramatic impact for all air ambulance operators and may make the industry much safer. Stricter flight rules and procedures, improved communications, enhanced training and additional on-board safety equipment are some of the newly added regulations, and represent the most significant changes to helicopter safety requirements in decades. Effective this month, all medical helicopter operators will be required to use enhanced procedures for flights in adverse 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. Within four years, they must be equipped with flight data monitoring systems.
The newest member of Airbus Helicopters proven EC145 rotorcraft family – the EC145 T2 – has been certified, clearing the way for customer deliveries beginning in the third quarter of this year. Issued by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the certification covers the full range of capabilities, including single-pilot and instrument flight rules (IFR) and single engine operations (Cat.A/VTOL), along with night vision goggle capability. On Saturday, May 10, 2014, at the NTWB Training Center, The National Transportation Safety Board is presenting a seminar highlighting the lessons learned from the NTSB’s investigations of general aviation accidents involving aerodynamic stalls and loss of control. Accidents attributed to “loss of control in-flight” are the most common defining events for fatal crashes in the personal flying sector of general aviation, accounting for about 40 percent of GA fatalities.