As part of its continuing investigations into nine helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) accidents the National Transportation Safety Board will open public dockets on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2009, at 10:00 am. The nine docket items are:
* On Dec. 3, 2007, a Eurocopter BK117C1 helicopter, N141LG, crashed into the ocean about 3 miles east of Whittier, Alaska. The helicopter was operated by Evergreen Alaska Helicopters Inc., under contract to Providence Hospital, Anchorage, Alaska, as a visual flight rules (VFR) patient transport flight when the accident occurred. Of the four persons aboard, only one body was recovered. The remaining three are presumed to have also died. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed in the area of the accident, and company VFR flight following procedures were in effect.
* On Dec. 30, 2007, a Bell 206L-3, N109AE, owned and operated by Air Evac EMS Inc., crashed while maneuvering near Cherokee, AL. The certificated airline transport pilot, paramedic, and flight nurse were killed. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a company flight plan was filed for the local aerial search flight.
* On Feb. 5, 2008, a Eurocopter AS350B2 EMS helicopter, N911VA, impacted water on Laguna Madre near South Padre Island, Texas. The helicopter was destroyed. The airline transport pilot, flight nurse, and flight paramedic sustained fatal injuries. The helicopter was operated by Metro Aviation Inc., doing business as Valley Air Care, Harlingen, Texas. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The flight was en route to pick up a patient at an emergency landing zone in the parking lot of the South Padre Island Convention Center.
* On May 10, 2008, a Eurocopter EC 135 T2+ EMS helicopter, N135UW, operated by Air Methods Corporation, was destroyed during an in-flight collision with trees and terrain near La Crosse, WI. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The pilot, physician and flight nurse sustained fatal injuries.
* On June 8, 2008, a Bell 407 EMS helicopter, N416PH, owned by PHI Inc., and operated as Med 12, was destroyed when it impacted a heavily forested area in the Sam Houston National Forest, south of Huntsville, Texas. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The pilot, flight nurse, flight paramedic, and passenger were fatally injured. The flight had departed Huntsville Memorial Hospital Heliport after picking up a patient, and was en route to Herman Memorial Hospital, Houston.
* On June 29, 2008, a Bell 407 EMS helicopter, N407GA, and a Bell 407 EMS helicopter, N407MJ, collided in mid air while approaching the Flagstaff Medical Center helipad, Flagstaff, AZ. Both helicopters were destroyed, and all seven persons aboard the two aircraft were killed. N407GA was operated by Air Methods Corporation, Englewood, CO, and registered to Flagstaff Medical Center. N407MJ was operated by Classic Helicopter Services, Page, AZ, and registered to M&J Leisure L.L.C., Ogden, Utah. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and company flight plans were filed for both flights. N407GA's flight departed Flagstaff Pulliam Airport and N407MJ's flight departed the Grand Canyon National Park Service South Rim helibase, Tusayan, AZ.
* On Aug. 31, 2008, a Bell 206L-1 helicopter, N37AE, operated by Air Evac EMS Inc., was destroyed during an in-flight collision with terrain and post impact fire near Greensburg, IN. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The pilot, flight nurse, and paramedic sustained fatal injuries. The accident flight departed at from Burney, IN, with the intention of returning to the aircraft's base located in Rushville, IN.
One of the pilots failed to follow arrival and noise abatement guidelines and the other failed to follow communications guidelines.
The Board found that the pilot failed to adhere to instrument approach procedures when he did not prevent the helicopter's descent at the MDA.
The new rules would require stricter flight rules and procedures, improved communications and training, and additional on-board safety equipment.
On Oct. 14, the NTSB will hold a public board meeting regarding these events.