Serving the Worldwide Helicopter Industry | Instrument Flight Rules | Helicopter

March 2010 Serving the Worldwide Helicopter Industry rotorandwing.

The Safety Issue
Exclusive Interview:
NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman
HEMS Safety Awareness
Flying into the Abyss
Offshore Operations
EASA Rotorcraft Symposium Report
Plus: Original MASH Pilot Richard Kirkland
01_RW_030110_Cover.indd 1 2/18/10 10:36:45 AM
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Rotor & Wing
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System components:
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©2010 by Access Intelligence, LLC. Contents may not be reproduced in any form without written permission.
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10 Rotorcraft Report
18 People
18 Coming Events
24 Hot Products
55 Classified Ads
59 Ad Index
61 Coming Up
4 Editor’s Notebook
7 Feedback
8 Meet the Contributors
56 Safety Watch
58 Military Insider
60 Law Enforcement Notebook
62 Public Safety
On the Cover: The AW139, photo courtesy of AgustaWestland, is
favored by many offshore operators. (Above) A LifeFlight of Maine
helicopter responds to the scene of a motorcycle accident. Photo by
Michele Barker. (Bottom) NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman.
Vol. 44
No. 3
March 2010
The editors welcome new product information and other industry news. All editorial inquiries should be directed to Rotor & Wing magazine, 4 Choke Cherry Rd., 2nd Floor, Rockville, Md.
20850, USA; 1-301-354-1839; fax 1-301-762-8965. E-mail: Rotor & Wing (ISSN-1066-8098) is published monthly by Access Intelligence, 4 Choke
Cherry Rd., 2nd Floor, Rockville, Md. 20850, USA. Periodical postage paid at Rockville, Md. and additional mailing offices. Subscriptions: Free to qualified individuals directly involved in
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DACS Digital Audio Control System - choose to hear the difference.
DACS is a communications management system able
to distribute and control all aircraft audio to and from
all transceivers, receivers and audio warning sources.
With an integrated, multi-channel intercom system and
programmable user definition, DACS is configurable to
suit specific communication schemes.
System components:
• Audio Control Panels (ACP53 and/or ACP51)
• Audio Management Unit (AMU50)
• Remote Memory (RM01)
• Designed for tactical operations
• Digital audio processing and control
• Integrated Audio Warning Generator
• Enhanced performance
• Reduced system weight
• Reduced installation cost & complexity
• Flexible and configurable using
DACS software
• TSO-C139, ETSO-C50c
Cobham Avionics
6400 Wilkinson Drive
Prescott, AZ USA
Tel: (928) 708-1550
The most important thing we build is trust
Rotor & Wing MarC2 DACS TSO.indd1 1 2/3/2010 4:35:32 PM
26 ■ NTSB’s Deborah Hersman
Q&A with chairman of the U.S. safety agency. By Brian F. Finnegan
32 ■ HEMS Update
Safety awareness up, but wave of regs expected. By Charlotte Adams
36 ■ Flying Into the Abyss
Night ops over water is a special environment. By Dan Deutermann
40 ■ The Extra Mile
Challenges in the offshore oil and gas industry. By Andrew Healey
44 ■ Angel Came Down to Get Me
Profile of HEMS pilot Richard C. Kirkland. By Andrew D. Parker
48 ■ European Helicopter Safety
Report from EASA’s Rotorcraft Symposium. By Thierry Dubois
52 ■ From Mozart to Huey
Pilot prepares for Illinois Aviation Hall of Fame. By Anne Grahn
02_RW_030110_TOC_p2-3.indd 3 2/18/10 2:34:32 PM
4 RotoR & Wing magazine | maRch 2010 WWW. R ot o R a n d Wi n g . c o m
Towards a wider world
The most complete product range for your requirements.
The latest generation technology for any mission.
Full after-sale support and training services for your safety.
AGAE_4sogg_ROTeWING200x273Marzo.indd 1 5-02-2010 17:21:02
By Joy Finnegan
Focused on Safety
ur focus in this issue is safety.
Five of our features this month
are related to this theme. Before
telling you about the safety fea-
tures in this issue, I want to let you know
that we will be conducting our Rotor &
Wing Safety & Training Summit again
this year in Denver, Colo. on June 8 and 9.
Please make note of the dates. We’d love
to have you attend.
I can announce for the first time here
in the magazine that our keynote speaker
will be none other than FAA Administra-
tor Randy Babbitt. This is a great honor
and hopefully a show of solidarity from
the FAA with the rotorcraft world. More
news and session topics for the Rotor &
Wing Safety & Training Summit to come.
In this issue, first and foremost, we
had a rare, exclusive opportunity to get
one-on-one with National Transportation
Safety Board (NTSB) Chairman Deborah
Hersman. She was sworn in as the 12th
NTSB Chairman on July 28, 2009, follow-
ing her nomination to the post by Presi-
dent Barack Obama and confirmation by
the U.S. Senate.
Her two-year term as chairman runs
until July 2011. She is also serving a sec-
ond five-year term as a Board Member,
which expires on Dec. 31, 2013. Hersman
has been an NTSB board member since
June 21, 2004.
She has been the board member on
the scene of 17 major transportation acci-
dents, including the crash of a Maryland
State Police EMS helicopter in Forestville,
Md. in September 2008 and the mid-air
collision involving a sightseeing helicop-
ter and a single-engine plane over the
Hudson River that killed all nine people
aboard the two aircraft in August 2009.
Hersman has also chaired the public
events hosted by the NTSB, including
the September 2009 meeting announcing
four safety recommendation letters con-
taining 19 recommendations concerning
helicopter emergency medical services
In the process of conducting our inter-
view with Chairman Hersman, we found
that beyond her voluminous credentials
lies a true desire to improve the safety
of the aviation industry and specifically
the helicopter industry. She didn’t pull
any punches and was very direct with
her answers. Although she had a typical
bureaucrat’s entourage with her during
the interview, she rarely relied on their
input. As you will see, her answers to
our helicopter-related questions were
well-versed and thoughtful. They were
also refreshingly candid. You will find that
article on page 26.
Also find within that story a sample
risk matrix, something Chairman Hers-
man talked about as a low tech, inexpen-
sive way to reduce risky operations. It
takes up one page with the hopes that if
operators need a sample, they could easily
pull it out and use it.
We also have a story that looks at the
strides made by HEMS operators that
have improved safety in that world. We
talked to some of the leaders in the indus-
try and asked how they have improved the
safety of their operations. It is a fascinating
look at this complex work. Find that story,
by Charlotte Adams, on page 32.
Next, Dan Deutermann offers his
insights about night flight over water,
when the horizon disappears and visual
cues are almost non-existent. This is a
special type of flight environment and
should not be taken lightly. Dan’s exten-
sive experience in this realm gives special
credence to his recommendations. He
calls that realm “The Abyss” and that story
begins on page 36.
Another of our safety focused features
takes a look at the European perspec-
tive. European Correspondent Thierry
Dubois attended the 3rd Annual EASA
Rotorcraft Symposium and reports on
numerous initiatives that are in the works
and opinions expressed by European
rotorcraft luminaries, such as Vittorio
Morassi, chairman of the new European
Helicopter Association (newEHA); Brian
Humphries, who is both the chairman of
the British Helicopter Association (BHA)
and the CEO of the European Business
Aviation Association (EBAA); Robert
Carter, principal inspector of air accidents
at the UK’s Air accidents investigation
branch (AAIB); Francesco Paolucci, a
flight test engineer with the Italian civil
aviation authority (ENAC); as well as
engineers, operators and of course, the
OEMs. The European helicopter com-
munity seems laser-focused on improving
safety as well. Learn about what initiatives
are in works on page 48.
In this issue we are also taking a
moment to celebrate the lives of two
larger-than-life figures from the history of
helicopter piloting.
The first is Richard Kirkland. Author
of the book, “MASH Angels,” Kirkland
served in World War II and the Korean
War. It was during the Korean War that
helicopters became “the” mode of trans-
porting wounded soldiers from the battle-
field and led to greater survivability.
Injured soldiers were taken to mobile
hospitals called MASH (mobile Army
surgical hospital) units, familiar to all from
the long-running television show and
novel on which it was based, “M*A*S*H.”
Kirkland has many amazing stories, not
only about the MASH days, but about
keeping a helicopter in his back yard,
among others. Kirkland is a national hero
and treasure. See story, written by our
managing editor, Andrew D. Parker, start-
ing on page 44.
In addition, we take a look at the life
and times of another hero, Gerry Ventrel-
la, a Vietnam War veteran. He trained on
the Bell OH-13 and graduated to become
a Bell UH-1 combat assault pilot in Viet-
nam. He flew 813 combat hours and was
awarded 18 air medals for his service in
that conflict. He has been nominated for
induction into the Illinois Military Avia-
tion Hall of Fame this summer. Stories
from his amazing career start on page 52.
As soon as we button this March issue
up, the Rotor & Wing staff will be on their
way to Houston for Heli-Expo and by the
time you are reading this, the show will be
over. The April issue will be chock full of
Heli-Expo news and announcements.
Editor’s Notebook
03_RW_030110_EdNote_p4-6.indd 4 2/18/10 10:59:28 AM
Towards a wider world
The most complete product range for your requirements.
The latest generation technology for any mission.
Full after-sale support and training services for your safety.
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7 march 2010 | rotor & Wing magazine WWW. r ot o r a n d Wi n g . c o m
Services Products Training Public Service Military Commercial Personal|Corporate
Do you have comments on the rotorcraft industry or recent articles and viewpoints we’ve published? Send them to: Editor, Rotor & Wing, 4
Choke Cherry Road, Second Floor, Rockville, MD 20850, fax us at 301-354-1809 or email us at Please include a
city and state or province with your name and ratings. We reserve the right to edit all submitted material.
Capitalism at its Worst
I have just read your Rotor & Wing article,
“Stay Proficient” in the Editor’s Notebook
section (February 2010, page 4). Thank you
for writing it. I have been flying helicop-
ters, both military and commercial, for the
better part of 35 years and I’m astonished
at how little IFR proficiency exists in the
helicopter industry. The reasons for this,
though, are not hard to realize once you
understand the environment most com-
mercial helicopter pilots work in, especially
those that fly at night.
When I started flying in the Army, the
regulations clearly directed IFR training
and regular IFR filing; yet the reality was the
aircraft were seldom properly equipped for
serious IFR use. Tactical multi-ship training
missions, both in the U.S. and overseas,
were regularly conducted VFR in weather
as low as 200- to 300-foot ceilings and 1/2
to 1/4 mile visibility—in rain, snow, fog, etc.,
even at night—this was before NVGs. For
many military trained pilots; this “VFR at
all costs” approach carried over to the com-
mercial world—it is all they had known.
Additionally, to properly equip an IFR-
capable aircraft that is to be flown single-
pilot, it needs an autopilot. Helicopters are
inherently not as stable as airplanes—with
few exceptions you can never “trim up” a
helicopter to fly straight and level—hands
off, even in the smoothest of air. You take
your hands off of one or more controls or
divert your attention away from the imme-
diate task of flying, and away the aircraft
will go. For a pilot to fly alone (single-pilot)
in a non-autopilot-equipped “IFR capable”
helicopter in IMC, especially at night, is
quite daunting.
Thirdly, airplanes always fly from air-
fields to airfields that almost always have
weather reporting of some degree—at
least ASOS. This presents a relatively
black or white level of information on
whether to go or not. The vast majority of
helicopter EMS (HEMS) flights are to/
from open areas; away from airports,
without point weather reporting capabil-
ity. You can call all the weather briefers
you want; but when your destination is
20-plus miles (or more) from a weather
reporting facility, their ability to interpret
conditions at the scene, at the surface are
iffy. These are among some of the rea-
sons that the only helicopter flying done
regularly at night or in marginal weather
(outside the military) is by the HEMS or
police aviation communities.
The police aviation community is most-
ly centered on lighted, urban areas and
seldom fly if the weather is truly IFR. This
leaves the HEMS community, which is
often required to fly outside of urban envi-
ronments, at night, to locations with no
real-time weather information. To be flying
an inherently unstable aircraft, single-pilot,
at night, without autopilots, at relatively low
altitudes, in areas with little to no external
visual reference—where it is all but impos-
sible to see anything past the windshield;
and yet state they are legally “VFR” because
an area weather report says so, is absolute
insanity. The HEMS accident record of the
past several years supports this.
It was very interesting to read your
comments—the vast difference in mindset
between the commercial airplane world
and the commercial helicopter world is
accurate. Yet to simply state that ‘staying
instrument proficient’ is key to accident
reduction, and ultimately survival, is far
removed from the reality. Because of the
inadequate nature of much of the equip-
ment and flight environment, EMS flying
at night requires a level of instrument pro-
ficiency that equals or surpasses what the
airlines train to. Yet, with very few excep-
tions, most commercial helicopter opera-
tors do not require or support anywhere
near the instrument training levels that
equal proficiency; or, do not have the train-
ing properly directed from above to ensure
proficiency compliance.
The Europeans are way ahead of the
U.S. in this area. It is now or will soon be
directed that night HEMS will be conduct-
ed in twin engine, autopilot equipped, seri-
ously IFR-capable aircraft, flown by IFR-
proficient pilots—period. Canada already
has required a similar approach for EMS
operators, and their safety record reflects
the difference. There will be those in our
helicopter community who will argue with
what I say; but I have been flying a very long
time and am fundamentally correct.
The EMS industry in the U.S. needs
a complete re-thinking of what they
are about. Yet, until the FAA mandates
many of the more expensive and time-
consuming requirements, nothing will
change. The HEMS industry in the U.S.
is, in many ways, capitalism at its worst.
William Page
In the Executive Outlook section on page 26
of the January 2010 issue, Becker Avionics
was erroneously referred to as Becker Aero-
space. To Becker Avionics and anyone else
who might have been confused by the refer-
ence, please accept our sincere apologies.
Rotor & Wing mistakenly identified the photo on the left as an exterior view of a CAE Eurocopter AS350B2 flight training
device on page 4 of our Show Day edition from Heli-Expo. The correct photo is on the right. We regret the error.
04_RW_030110_Feedback_p07.indd 7 2/18/10 11:09:14 AM
8 RotoR & Wing magazine | maRch 2010 WWW. R ot o R a n d Wi n g . c o m
Meet the
Contributors 1.800.FLY.BELL
Of course, we’re referring to the thousands of Bell specialists who make up one of the world’s best helicopter
customer-support operations. They’re the ones busy getting you approved parts, expert advice 24/7, even
FAA-certified training. So whether your environment is law enforcement, EMS, offshore, corporate or military, you
can rely on all of us, working together to help you stay in the air longer. That’s the power of Bell customer support.
© 2010 Bell
Helicopter Textron Inc., all rights reserved.

Park Prepress
Bell Helicopter “Customer Service” Standard Page
A. Kopczyk
M. Yost
The Park
7 x 9.5
7.875 x 10.5
9.5 x 11.5
1 PB 02/09/10
Charlotte adaMs covers aviation and
defense technology. She has written for Aviation
Maintenance magazine and was the editor-
in-chief of Avionics magazine. She also writes
for the Armed Forces Communications and
Electronics Association.
lee BeNsoN is a retired senior pilot for
the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
Before he was named senior pilot, Lee ran the
aviation section’s safety and training programs,
including organizing the section’s yearly safety
meeting with other public agencies and the
aNdrew drwiega is a senior defense
journalist with a particular focus on military
rotorcraft. He was the editor of Defence
Helicopter for seven years. Andrew has reported
on military rotary forces across the world, and in
doing so has flown in a wide variety of rotorcraft
on training missions, exercises and on operations, including the
Osprey, Apache and Rooivalk. Andrew has also been involved
in organizing, chairing and attending defense and helicopter
conferences around the world.
daN deuterMaNN, Lt.Cdr, U.S. Coast Guard,
began his aviation career in the Navy flying the
HH46D and as a flight instructor in the TH-57.
In 2001, he transferred to the USCG to serve
with Air Station Savannah, flying SAR in the
HH65 Dolphin, MH-68’s (A109E) conducting
counter-drug missions with HITRON Jacksonville. He is cur-
rently back flying SAR missions in the MH65C at Air Station
Miami. Deutermann is a graduate of the Navy’s Aviation Safety
Officer school and advanced safety and accident investigation
courses from the NTSB, USC, SCSI. He also holds a master’s
degree from ERAU.
thierry duBois is a long-time contributor
to Access Intelligence publications. He has
been an aerospace journalist for 12 years, spe-
cializing in helicopters since 2006. He writes
on technical subjects, both for professional
media and a popular science magazine in
France, where he is based.
BriaN FiNNegaN is president of Finnegan
Aviation, LLC, an aviation services consulting
company. Brian is the former president of the
Professional Aviation Maintenance Associa-
tion (PAMA) and has extensive experience in
aviation safety as an accident investigator, a manager of air safe-
ty investigation and an F/A-18 Hornet field service engineer.
He is an A&P mechanic and private pilot with a B.S. in Aviation
Maintenance Management from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical
aNNe grahN is a private helicopter pilot and
freelance writer living in Chicago. This month’s
feature article, “From Mozart to Huey,” is her
first contribution to Rotor & Wing.
aNdrew healey trained as a Royal Navy
navigation officer and pilot with front-line tours
flying anti-submarine Sea Kings from aircraft
carrier Hermes, and Wasps off Antarctic patrol
ship Endurance. Before leaving the navy with an
ATPL(H), he was awarded a Queen’s Commen-
dation for Valuable Service in the Air for his part in the rescue of
seamen from a burning ship in the English Channel. As a civilian,
he flew Jet Rangers, A-Stars and Agusta A109s for a charter com-
pany near London.
FraNk loMBardi began his flying career in
1991 when he graduated with a bachelor’s of sci-
ence in aerospace engineering. Frank became a
police officer for a major East Coast police depart-
ment in 1995, and has flown helicopters in the
department’s aviation section since 2000. He is a
commercial pilot with both fixed-wing and rotary-wing ratings.
aNdrew Parker is managing editor of Rotor
& Wing magazine. He has served the same role
for Rotor & Wing sister publication Avionics
magazine, as well as Aviation Maintenance.
terry terrell gained his early aviation experi-
ence as a U.S. Navy fixed-wing instructor and U.S.
Coast Guard aircraft commander, where his ser-
vice included SAR in Sikorsky S-61s. Terry served
as a cross-qualified captain and safety special proj-
ects officer with Houston’s Transco Energy, and
later with Atlanta’s Kennestone AVSTAT Helicopter Ambulance
Program and Georgia Baptist LifeFlight.
riChard whittle, longtime Pentagon cor-
respondent for The Dallas Morning News,
writes regularly for R&W about military aircraft
and related topics. Simon & Schuster will publish
his book, “The Dream Machine: The Untold
History of the Notorious V-22 Osprey,” on April
27, 2010. It is available for advance order at
05_RW_031010_MeetCon_p8-9.indd 8 2/18/10 2:44:07 PM 1.800.FLY.BELL
Of course, we’re referring to the thousands of Bell specialists who make up one of the world’s best helicopter
customer-support operations. They’re the ones busy getting you approved parts, expert advice 24/7, even
FAA-certified training. So whether your environment is law enforcement, EMS, offshore, corporate or military, you
can rely on all of us, working together to help you stay in the air longer. That’s the power of Bell customer support.
© 2010 Bell
Helicopter Textron Inc., all rights reserved.

Park Prepress
Bell Helicopter “Customer Service” Standard Page
A. Kopczyk
M. Yost
The Park
7 x 9.5
7.875 x 10.5
9.5 x 11.5
1 PB 02/09/10
05_RW_031010_MeetCon_p8-9.indd 9 2/18/10 11:28:16 AM >>
Services Products Training Public Service Military Commercial Personal|Corporate
The Soteria Consortium (comprising
CHC, Thales, Sikorsky and the Royal Bank
of Scotland) has won a bid to replace the
UK’s predominantly military-run Search
and Rescue helicopter force in 2012. The
current SAR force is mainly comprised of
Royal Air Force and Royal Navy personnel
and aircraft at eight bases, with a smaller
contribution provided by the Maritime
and Coastguard Agency (MCA) at four
Quentin Davies, the UK’s Minister for
Defence Equipment and Support, made
the long-awaited announcement on Octo-
ber 9. Dubbed the harmonized Search and
Rescue Helicopter (SAR-H) service, the
move is very significant in that it moves
the responsibility of managing the UK’s
search and rescue helicopter force from
the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the
Department for Transport (DfT) to a Pri-
vate Finance Initiative (PFI)-based civilian
“The Ministry of Defence and the
Department for Transport have been
working on this for three years and we
are now happy to accept the Soteria bid,”
said Davies. The confirmed £6-billion
(approximately $8.25-billion) contract has
been awarded on the provision of a service
based around 97 percent aircraft avail-
ability (Soteria’s website states that the four
aircraft currently in service with the MCA
have had an availability record in excess of
98 percent).
“This is a very good day for search and
rescue in the UK. We are now planning to
retire the Sea King after 30 years service,”
he said. Paul Clark, the parliamentary
Under Secretary of State for DfT, followed
on saying: “This is good news for the
Department of Transport, the Royal Navy
and the Royal Air Force and good for those
who will need this service on land and sea.
We can now bring this together under one
single service.” However, the number of
military pilots and crew within the force is
expected to drop from the current level of
around 240 to 66, making the majority of
the personnel civilian.
In terms of value for money against the
existing service, Davies said it depended on
how fixed costs were allocated within the
MoD and that it wasn’t possible to make a
comparison over 25 years.
Davies said of the decision to move to
a PFI based service: “This wasn’t driven by
a cost-saving agenda. It is the provision of
a new and better service based on avail-
ability.” Davies stated that he was confident
that the new arrangement would provide
good value.
Now that the pre-selection of a bidder
is complete, Davies said that full contract
negotiations could begin, with the aim of
finalizing the award later in 2010. The heli-
copter chosen by the Soteria Consortium
to replace the Sea Kings is the Sikorsky
S-92A. “The S-92 has been in operation
in Northern Scotland [Shetland and Isle
of Lewis] for three years and the crews are
impressed with the capability of the heli-
copter,” said Clark.
The S-92s are said to be 30 percent
faster than the Sea Kings and will be
equipped with forward-looking infrared
(FLIR) and integrated de-icing equipment
(rotor ice protection system or RIPS). The
MCA operation will begin the transition
first in 2012 with a completion date set for
2016.—By Andrew Drwiega, Military
Soteria Wins SAR-H Battle to Civilianize UK’s SAR Helicopter Force
Made up of CHC, Thales, Sikorsky and the Royal Bank of Scotland, the Soteria Consortium has chosen
the S-92A to replace UK-operated Sea Kings.
For daily and breaking news involving helicopters, go to:
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06_RW_030110_RCR_p10_23.indd 10 2/18/10 12:23:55 PM
Rotorcraft Report
SRT Instructs San Antonio Med Unit
San Antonio Fire Department’s Medical Special Operations Unit (MSOU) recently
completed two training courses with SRT Helicopters of Bakersfield, Calif. The courses
covered basic rescue swimmer and basic short haul rescue training. Lt. Robert Dugie
explains that some of the sessions “were conducted in challenging weather conditions
which included freezing temperatures and snow flurries.” He adds that the training “was
extremely realistic in every aspect and was invaluable for us as a team working with
another city agency.”
Ducommun Wins
V-22 Assembly Deal
Bell Helicopter has issued a contract for
Ducommun AeroStructures (DAS) to
provide titanium longeron assemblies
for the MV-22 tiltrotor. Developed in
partnership with Boeing Rotorcraft
Systems, the V-22 Osprey can function
in both VTOL and STOL modes. A
subsidiary of Carson, Calif. -based
Ducommun Inc., DAS will assemble the
left and right longerons at its facility in
Coxsackie, N.Y.
Night Flight Trains
Atlanta PD Pilots
Port St. Lucie, Fla.-based Night Flight
Concepts (NFC) has conducted night
vision goggle training for the Atlanta Police
Department under its Turn Green, Turn
Key program. Atlanta PD used its MD500E
for the program, which included ground
and flight training for pilots and tactical
flight officers (TFOs). NFC supplied
its TSO-approved night vision aviation
goggles (NVAGs), an NVG inspection
service to maintain the equipment’s
airworthiness, and an MD500E NVG
lighting kit from REB Technologies.
EC135s to Serve Spanish Police Forces
The Spanish Ministry
of the Interior has
placed an order for
12 Eurocopter EC135
P2i aircraft. Spain’s
National Police Force
will receive six of the
helicopters for law
enforcement, and the
other six will go to
the Spanish Guardia
Civil. Assembly will
take place in Albacete,
Spai n. Eurocopter
plans to deliver the
first four helicopters
in 2010, with four in 2011 and the rest in 2012. The National Police and Guardia Civil
currently operate seven EC135s each. Eurocopter is working on two additional contracts
that would bring the combined fleets of the two units to 51 EC135s as part of a helicopter
modernization program.
AgustaWestland Receives
Maritime AW109 Order
The Bangladesh Navy has placed an order for two
AW109 Power helicopters from AgustaWestland.
The AW109s will conduct search and rescue, surface
surveillance, maritime security and economic zone
protection ops. AgustaWestland plans to hand over the
helicopters—which will be equipped to fly from the
frigate BNS Bangabandhu—in 2011. The agreement
also contains provisions for training, including VFR/
IFR conversion training, instruction for maintenance
engineers and initial operational maritime training with
an AW109 Level-D flight simulator.
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12 RotoR & Wing magazine | maRch 2010 WWW. R ot o R a n d Wi n g . c o m
Rotorcraft Report
Qual i f yi ng a hel i copter si mul ator
internationally can be a bit of a headache.
National regul ators have different
standards and it can be difficult to map
between them. The task extends the
time and cost of fielding new products.
ICAO, the International Civil Aviation
Organization, is working on a solution to
these problems.
It’s taking a practical approach, trying
to match simulator features to tasks that
pilots are actually required to perform to
obtain different levels of certification, such
as a private pilot license, air transport pilot
license, commercial pilot license, instru-
ment rating, type ratings and recurrent
While the draft standard isn’t expected
to be submitted until year-end, if all goes
according to current plans, the new docu-
ment will also mark a step up in require-
ments at the lower end of the spectrum.
The Technical Group of the Helicopter-
International Working Group (H-IWG) is
looking at 114 different tasks, said Stéphane
Clément, co-chair of the Technical Group
and director of regulatory affairs for CAE.
In addition to the tasks there are three
levels of fidelity—generic, representative
and specific—and 14 different simulation
features, such as visuals, motion, vibration
and representation of aerodynamics. Cor-
relating all of these items is difficult and
involves what insiders dub the “matrix
from hell.”
Clément provided Rotor & Wing a
snapshot of the committee’s work, which
is, of course, subject to change. Currently,
however, simulators are divided into five
types, described generically:
• Type V—the top level, with potential for
Zero Flight Time;
• Type IV—more type-specific, inter-
mediate-level trainers, but includes
• Type III—similar to Type IV, but motion
is not required;
• Type II—partial VFR trainers, associated
with private pilot and commercial pilot
licenses; and
• Type I—basic instrument trainers.
If the current thinking holds, all five
types will require a visual system although
not of identical quality. Some level of vibra-
tion capability is also likely to be required
in all types, as it is such an important cue.
Basic ATC simulation—mostly hearing
other traffic—is likely for all types, as well.
One example shows how complex the
challenge is. Take a basic task: transition
from hover to forward flight. A trainer
capable of simulating this action would
require a vibration system to give the pilot
the feeling of the rotor effects in transi-
tion. Visuals would be important, as well,
because although the pilot lowers the nose
and is looking downward, he also needs to
look up to scan for other traffic.
The standards group also would con-
sider what type of pilot approval the task
is being performed for. If it’s for a type rat-
ing, the transition-from-hover task would
require a trainer with a relatively high level
of fidelity for visuals, vibration, sound,
motion, engines, aircraft systems and flight
Simulation of the navigation system
would be less important. If the task is being
performed for a private pilot’s license, less
fidelity would be required because the stu-
dent is learning to fly rather than learning
to fly a specific aircraft type.
Participants in the ICAO process
include regulators, helicopter manufac-
turers and helicopter operators, as well as
training organizations. While the views
of the members are converging, much
remains to be done. So stay tuned for
further developments in this important
area.—By Charlotte Adams
■ Training
Simulator Standards Harmonization With Pilot needs in Mind
The CAE 3000 Series helicopter mission trainer
features a direct-projection dome with 210 x
75-degree field of view, Tropos-6000 visual system
and cockpit vibration platform.
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14 RotoR & Wing magazine | maRch 2010 WWW. R ot o R a n d Wi n g . c o m
Rotorcraft Report
■ Training
MilitaRy SiMulatoRS
Boeing apache Trainers Come Online
The U.S. Army has declared five recently delivered Boeing AH-64D Apache Longbow
Crew Trainers (LCTs) “ready for training.” According to Boeing, the delivery of five Apache
trainers in 2009 stands as the largest yearly number to date for the model. The manufacturer
has handed over a total of 29 LCTs through early 2010.
Four Army sites and one Egyptian Air Force location are the recipients of the five LCTs
delivered in the past year. The Army base at Fort Hood, Texas received two trainers, and
one LCT each went to Fort Drum, N.Y. and Illesheim, Germany, in addition to the Egyptian
Air Force site. Boeing plans to hand over three more LCTs to the U.S. Army in 2011 and
2012. One will go to the Department of Defense, one to the National Guard as part of a
modernization program, and the third may be used as a development platform.
■ COmmerCial
erickson receives
Oregon OSHa award
Oregon’s Occupational Safety and Health
Administration (OSHA) has designated
Erickson Air-Crane a SHARP employer.
Under the safety and health achievement
recognition program (SHARP), companies
who display comprehensive and effective
health and safety programs. SHARP
companies are given a limited exemption
from programmed inspections.
■ miliTary
elbit to Support aH-1W Support Deal
NAVAIR has struck a $15.6-million arrangement for Elbit Systems of America’s tactical
video data link (TVDL) in support of U.S. Marine Corps AH-1W Super Cobra attack
helicopters. The contract involves the development, production and installation of TVDL
kits on the AH-1Ws. Elbit Systems is subcontracting Tadiran Spectralink and Service
Support Associates to help with the effort.
■ ServiCeS
night viSion
aero Dynamix gains
european STC
The European Aviation Safety Agency
(EASA) has granted a supplemental type
certificate (STC) for Aero Dynamix to
install its night vision imaging system
(NVIS) on helicopters in Europe. The
Euless, Texas-based company worked with
MD Helicopters to achieve certification,
using a MD902 in operation with
Denmark’s Casa Air.
■ miliTary
assembly of First
S-70i Wraps Up
PZL Mielec in Poland has nearly finished
putting together the initial S70i Black
Hawk, Sikorsky reported in January.
Aircraft 0001 went into assembly in August
2009, powering up for the first time late
last year. A subsidiary of Sikorsky, PZL is
the final assembly center for the S-70i, an
international variant of the Black Hawk.
■ PUBliC ServiCe
eastCare medical incorporates eC135
Pitt County Memorial Hospital has taken delivery of a new Eurocopter EC135 for its
EastCare air medical service in North Carolina. Based at Rocky Mount-Wilson Regional
Airport (RWI), the EC135 is part of a fleet upgrade that also involves Eurocopter
delivering two EC145s this spring—scheduled for April and May 2010. The EC145s will
be stationed at Pitt County Memorial’s heliport (NC91) in Greenville, N.C. The group of
Eurocopter variants is set to replace a fleet of three BK-117s operated through a lease with
Air Methods.
This Eurocopter EC135 has joined the fleet of the EastCare air medical
program, which Pitt County Memorial Hospital runs.
Capt. Jeremy Duff, a battle commander for
the 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 10th
Combat Aviation Brigade, uses an Apache
Longbow Crew Trainer (LCT) to prepare for
various missions in Iraq.


06_RW_030110_RCR_p10_23.indd 14 2/18/10 12:25:27 PM
Rotorcraft Report
15 March 2010 | rotor & Wing Magazine WWW. r ot o r a n d Wi n g . c o M
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Sorting Out
NVG Rules, Ops
Corporate Helicopters:
Clear of Turbulence?
October 2008 Serving the Worldwide Helicopter Industry
R&W_HalfIsland.indd 1 3/25/09 11:50:50 AM
■ Public Service
AW119Ke Added to
Finnish Order
The Finnish Border Guard has purchased
another AgustaWestland AW119Ke. The
border guard chose the helicopter model
in 2008 as part of a fleet modernization
and enhancement program, placing orders
for three AW119Kes. AgustaWestland
plans to deliver the first three helicopters
in third quarter 2010. All four helicopters
will perform various missions, including
border patrol, special operations and
firefighting. Each will come equipped with
a law enforcement package, including night
vision goggles (NVGs).
■ PrOductS
latitude inks Sei
bambi bucket deal
Victoria, BC-based Latitude Technologies
Corp. has signed a supply agreement
with SEI Industries to equip the Bambi
Bucket with sensors for real-time data
gathering, satellite relay and informational
displays. SEI Industries manufactures
the firefighting water bucket from its
48,000-square-foot facility in Delta, BC.
■ trAining
ec135 Sims Join
Air Methods
AeroSimulators has won a contract to
provide three helicopter flight training
devices (FTDs) for Air Methods of
Englewood, Colo. The first FTD—a
Eurocopter EC135 trai ner wi th a
modified cockpit—will be based at Air
Methods headquarters. The company
will employ the two other trainers, which
are mobile units for the AS350, in field
Finland’s Border Guard has
purchased a fourth AW119Ke
for police and special ops
missions. The helicopters will
come with a law enforcement
package similar to this NYPD
AW119Ke in the homeland
security configuration.
06_RW_030110_RCR_p10_23.indd 15 2/18/10 12:25:47 PM
Rotorcraft Report
Sikorsky’s Innovations Targets Unmanned Black Hawk
More than 100 people attended a Feb. 1 ceremony
at Connecticut Science Center in Hartford where
Sikorsky uncovered plans for its latest division—
Innovations. The “virtual” organization will seek to
establish and strengthen collaborations between
government, universities, businesses and other
United Technologies Corp. (UTC) research facilities.
During the next decade, Sikorsky plans to invest
$1 billion in Innovations for a number of projects,
including an unmanned version of the UH-60 Black
Hawk. Efforts under the new division have already
started at more than 20 global locations. The heli-
copter manufacturer says that one such investment
was recently completed at Eagle Aviation Technolo-
gies in Hampton. Va.
Mark Miller, vice president of research and engi-
neering, said that Sikorsky is “currently working on challenges in the areas of high speed flight, optionally piloted aircraft, systems
that enable safe operation in blinding, brownout conditions, and many others that only a few years ago might have been consid-
ered technologically and economically unfeasible.”
A U.S. Army UH-60 Black Hawk from
Task Force 34, 1st Battalion-244th
Assault Helicopter Battalion, flies
above a mosque during an early 2009
mission in Iraq. Sikorsky is investing $1
billion in its new Innovations segment,
which will research a number of next-
generation technologies, including an
unmanned version of the Black Hawk.




Luminator Searchlight Going on UH-72A
EADS North America has chosen Plano, Texas-based Luminator’s LS16 searchlight for
the UH-72A. In the security and support configuration, the UH-72A comes equipped
with an electro-optical infrared sensor, communications suite, moving map, cockpit and
cabin displays, a digital video recorder and the LS16. The searchlight employs solid-state
electronics, an optical system, bi-directional focusing and a drive system with a variable-
speed azimuth and elevation motion at speeds of 30 degrees per second.
Consortium Gets
SkyTrac Satcom
Dubai-based Aerospace Consortium FZE
has contracted SkyTrac Systems to supply
satcom and flight following services for
its mixed fleet, which comprises Bell 412,
Kamov 32 and Mi-8T/8MTV helicopters,
as well as Antonov-26/72/74, Boeing 747
and Ilyushin-76 fixed-wing aircraft.
LEA Offers Loan
Program for Training
Leading Edge Aviation (LEA) has secured
approval to offer Sallie Mae’s Smart Option
student loans for helicopter flight training.
The Bend, Ore.-based flight school says
the loan program will open up helicopter
training to a wider range of students.
LEA is also affiliated with Central Oregon
Community College (COCC). Spring
registration starts March 19.
© 2010 Bell® Helicopter Textron Inc., all rights reserved.
Air Asia Company Limited
Alpine Aerotech Ltd.
Arrow Aviation Co. LLC
Avialta Helicopter Maintenance Ltd.
Eagle Copters Maintenance Ltd.
Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.
Northwest Helicopters LLC
Patria Helicopters AB
Rotorcraft Support, Inc.
Sikorsky Helitech
Uniflight, LLC
Motorflug Baden-Baden GmbH
At Bell Helicopter, we know you have a world of possibilities when it comes to servicing your
helicopter. That’s why we’ve certified over 120 Customer Service Facilities in 32 countries around
the world, providing the award winning Bell customer service and support
you expect. While they all meet our premier standards, twelve have been
recognized as Platinum, receiving our highest certification. Proving that
world-class service is available nearby, no matter what corner of the world
your helicopter operates.
BAE Countermeasures System Flies on CH-47D
Rockville, Md.-based BAE Systems successfully installed its Advanced Threat Infrared
Countermeasures (ATIRCM) system on U.S. Army CH-47D Chinook aircraft in
December 2009. Now, the U.S. Army has reported its first success in defending a
CH-47D against multiple infrared man-portable anti-aircraft missiles (IR manpads)
during January 2010. ATIRCM is a laser-based, directable countermeasures system that
protects helicopters against attack by infrared and radio frequency missiles.
The AN/ALQ-212(V) ATIRCM, coupled with the AAR-57 Common Missile Warn-
ing System (CMWS), greatly enhances overall aircraft survivability against current
and evolving threats. Its installation follows a series of rigorous qualification, field, and
flight tests. The first systems were installed ahead of the Dec. 15 deadline for the Army’s
ATIRCM quick-reaction capability program. The system provides missile warning for
rotary-wing, transport, and tactical aircraft in all military services. The AN/ALQ-212(V)
advanced threat infrared countermeasures/common missile warning system (ATIRCM/
CMWS) suite provides protection against an array of threats, including all infrared threat
bands. —By Brian Finnegan
06_RW_030110_RCR_p10_23.indd 16 2/18/10 12:26:13 PM
© 2010 Bell® Helicopter Textron Inc., all rights reserved.
Air Asia Company Limited
Alpine Aerotech Ltd.
Arrow Aviation Co. LLC
Avialta Helicopter Maintenance Ltd.
Eagle Copters Maintenance Ltd.
Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.
Northwest Helicopters LLC
Patria Helicopters AB
Rotorcraft Support, Inc.
Sikorsky Helitech
Uniflight, LLC
Motorflug Baden-Baden GmbH
At Bell Helicopter, we know you have a world of possibilities when it comes to servicing your
helicopter. That’s why we’ve certified over 120 Customer Service Facilities in 32 countries around
the world, providing the award winning Bell customer service and support
you expect. While they all meet our premier standards, twelve have been
recognized as Platinum, receiving our highest certification. Proving that
world-class service is available nearby, no matter what corner of the world
your helicopter operates.
06_RW_030110_RCR_p10_23.indd 17 2/18/10 11:30:36 AM
18 RotoR & Wing magazine | maRch 2010 WWW. R ot o R a n d Wi n g . c o m
Rotorcraft Report

Columbia Helicopters’
board of di rectors
has elected Nancy
Lematta as its next
chairman. She replaces
Wes Lematta, her
husband and founder of the company,
who passed away in December 2009.
Nancy Lematta says that there will be
no change in operations at Columbia,
stressing that she “feels comfortable in
knowing how he would have wanted his
company managed in the future.”
Bloomfield, Conn. -based Kaman
Corp’s Helicopters division has appointed
general managers to newly created prod-
uct groups. Tim Bates is the new GM of
the blade and subcontract product group.
Terry Fogarty will lead the unmanned
aircraft systems (UAS) group, and Bob
Manaskie will serve as GM of the heli-
copter aftermarket group. Kaman has
also named John Shelanskas acting
director of the operations support group.
In another recent move, Kaman Corp.
has created a new division within its
Aerospace Group—Kaman Composites—
appointing James Larwood as president.
He was formerly president of the com-
pany’s Precision Products division.
Text ron subsi d-
iary Bell Helicopter
has promoted Barry
Kohler to president of
its Canadian affiliate.
Currently vice presi-
dent of Bell’s Commercial Programs divi-
sion, Kohler will replace Eric Cardinali
as president of Bell Helicopter Textron
Canada Ltd. Cardinali has taken a posi-
tion as senior vice president of integrated
supply chain for Cessna, also a Textron
Cobham has named John Devaney
non-executive director and chairman
designate. Under a succession plan, Dev-
aney—currently executive chairman
of National Express—will take over as
Cobham chairman from David Turner
in May 2010.
Canadian satcom provider SkyTrac
Systems has appointed Malachi Nor-
dine to head its systems integration team.
The company says the team will assist
operators with various software and hard-
ware issues, including data collection,
access and transfer.
March 17–19: Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS) Spring
Conference, Washington, DC. Contact AAMS, phone 1-703-836-8732
or visit
March 23–28: FIDAE 2010, Santiago, Chile. Contact FIDAE, phone 56
2 873 9752 or visit
April 7–10: Aircraft Electronics Association Convention, Orlando,
Fla. Contact AEA, phone 1-816-347-8400 or visit
April 14–17: Army Aviation Association of America (Quad-A)
Annual Convention, Fort Worth, Texas. Contact Quad-A, phone
1-203-268-2450 or visit
April 21–22: Search and Rescue 2010, Aberdeen, Scotland. Contact
Shepherd Group, phone +44 0 1753 727015 or visit www.shepherd.
May 3–6: 2010 Offshore Technology Conference, Houston, Texas.
Contact Offshore Technology Conference, phone 1-972-952-9494 or
May 4–6: European Business Aviation Association and NBAA’s
EBACE 2010, Geneva, Switzerland. Contact EBAA, phone +32 2 766
0073 or visit
May 11–13: American Helicopter Society International 66th
Annual Forum and Technology Display, Phoenix, Ariz. Contact AHS
Intl, phone 1-703-684-6777 or visit
May 11–13: 55th Annual Corporate Aviation Safety Seminar
(CASS), Tucson, Ariz. Contact Flight Safety Foundation, phone
1-703-739-6700 or visit
May 20–22: Intl Helicopter Industry Exhibition, Moscow, Russia.
Contact HeliRussia, +7 495 958 9490 or visit
May 25–27: Heli-Pacific, Queensland, Australia. Contact Shepherd
Group, phone +44 0 1753 727015 or visit
July 19–25: Farnborough Intl Airshow 2010, Farnborough, England.
Contact FIA, phone +44 0 1252 532800 or visit
July 14–17: Airborne Law Enforcement Association (ALEA) Annual
Conference, Tucson, Ariz. Contact ALEA, phone 1-301-631-2406 or
Aug. 21–23: National Guard Association of the United States
(NGAUS) 132nd General Conference, Austin, Texas. Contact
NGAUS, phone 1-202-789-0031 or visit
Sept. 7–9: 36th European Rotorcraft Forum 2010, Paris, France.
Contact ERF, phone +33 15 664 1235 or visit
Oct. 5–10: Helitech Europe 2010, Estoril, Portugal. Contact Reed
Exhibitions, phone +44 0 208 271 2155 or visit www.helitecheurope.
Oct. 5–10: FAI 104th General Conference, Dublin, Ireland. Contact
FAI, phone +4121 345 1070 or visit
Oct. 11–13: AAMS Air Medical Transport Conference (AMTC),
Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Contact Association of Air Medical Services,,
phone 1-703-836-8732 or visit
Oct. 19–21: National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) 63rd
Annual Meeting & Convention, Atlanta, Ga. Contact NBAA, phone
1-202-783-9000 or visit
Oct. 25–27: Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting,
Washington, D.C. Contact AUSA, phone 1-703-841-4300, toll free
1-800-336-4570 or visit
November 1–3: AHS International Meeting on Advanced
Rotorcraft Technology and Safety Operations (Heli Japan), Ohmiya,
Japan. Contact AHS Intl, 1-703-684-6777 or visit
November 2–4: Dubai Helishow 2010, Dubai, UAE. Contact Media
Communications & Exhibitions, phone +44 0 1293 823 779 or visit
06_RW_030110_RCR_p10_23.indd 18 2/18/10 12:26:28 PM
Rotorcraft Report
19 March 2010 | rotor & Wing Magazine WWW. r ot o r a n d Wi n g . c o M
■ services
Max-viz Gets sTc’d
Max-Vi z Inc. has obtai ned an FAA
supplemental type certificate to install its
EVS-1000 enhanced vision system on the
Eurocopter AS350 and EC130. One Sky
Aviation of Anchorage, Alaska will equip the
helicopters under the STC. The companies
used a VIP-configured EC130 to complete the
STC work.
■ MiliTary
German army cH-53Ga Goes airborne
A crowd of more
than 150 peopl e
wi t n e s s e d t h e
i ni t i al f l i ght of
t he Eurocopt er
CH- 5 3 GA—t h e
me d i u m l i f t
transport for the
Ger man Ar med
Forces—on Feb. 10
in Donauwörth. Test
pilot Rene Nater
and flight engineer
Antoine Van Gent
conducted the first
flight under the CH-53GA retrofit program. The helicopter features a number of
upgrades, including digital avionics, advanced navigation system, an automatic flight
control system and a modular equipment package with FLIR, satcom and electronic
warfare system (EWS). Training flights using the CH-53GA are scheduled to commence
in early 2011, with deliveries planned later that year.
■ ProducTs
Goodrich Hands over
Milestone aN/avr-2B
The U.S. Army has taken delivery of the 500th
Goodrich Corp. AN/AVR-2B laser detecting
system. The company’s ISR Systems division
in Danbury, Conn. supplies the AN/AVR-
2B, which it uses on Army Black Hawk and
AH-64 Apache helicopters.
Germany’s Armed Forces will use the CH-53GA for international missions,
such as in Afghanistan, starting in late 2011.
06_RW_030110_RCR_p10_23.indd 19 2/18/10 12:26:43 PM
Rotorcraft Report
Lockheed Martin has handed over the 50th
MH-60R helicopter with an equipment
package designed to help protect the U. S.
Navy fleet from hostile submarines and
surface ships. Sikorsky built the newest
member of the Seahawk family, with
advanced mission systems integration
from Lockheed Martin.
“I am extremely proud of the MH-60R
team, which has enabled this impor-
tant milestone in the Romeo’s continued
introduction to the fleet,” said Rear Adm.
Steve Eastburg, program executive offi-
cer air ASW, assault and special mission
programs. “The enormous multimission
capability of this platform continues to be
leveraged by the warfighter in new and
innovative ways.”
During the delivery ceremony at Lock-
heed Martin’s Mission Systems & Sensors
facility in Owego, N.Y., Rear Adm. Paul
Grosklags, vice commander, Naval Air Sys-
tems Command, thanked Lockheed Mar-
tin and Sikorsky employees and other key
suppliers. “The MH-60R has evolved over
30 years, through lessons learned during
developmental testing, fleet deployments
and maintenance on these rugged air-
frames and mission systems, in the harshest
maritime environments,” said Grosklags.
“It stands now as the premier multimission
helicopter in operation today.”
An aircrew from Helicopter Maritime
Strike Squadron Seven Zero (HSM-70)
flew the 50th aircraft from the Owego
facility to its new home at the Naval Air
Station in Jacksonville, Fla. The aircraft is
the 10th MH-60R delivered to HSM-70,
which was established in February 2009.
The U.S. Navy deployed with 11 MH-
60R aircraft for the first time from January
to July 2009 with the USS John C. Stennis
(CVN 74) carrier strike group.
“Your [industry] efforts were validated
by the HSM-71 deployment with the John
C. Stennis carrier strike. This was a very
successful deployment, perhaps the most
successful initial deployment for an aircraft
in many years,” said Grosklags. “When the
Romeo deployed, every system was avail-
able to the commander on day one.”
HSM-70 will deploy with 11 MH-60R
aircraft aboard the USS George H.W. Bush
carrier strike group (CVN 77) in 2011.
To date, the Navy has established and
equipped four MH-60R squadrons, with
plans to fill out 16 more through the pur-
chase of 300 aircraft.
Capt. Dean Peters, the U.S. Navy’s
MH-60 program manager, said that “these
highly integrated platforms are building
a situational awareness picture of the
surface and undersea domains that is prov-
ing invaluable to fleet operators.” Added
Grosklags: “The Romeo is now the only
organic ASW (antisubmarine warfare)
capability in the strike group. It’s a game
changer. It’s indispensable.”
As mission systems integrator for the
Sikorsky-built MH-60R, Lockheed Martin
is responsible for integrating the helicop-
ter’s digital cockpit, a multi-mode radar,
acoustic sonar suite, long-range infrared
camera and other advanced sensors to
detect, identify, track and engage surface
and subsurface targets. Lockheed Martin
also integrates a self-defense system to pro-
tect the aircraft from missile threats.
“The highly integrated nature of the
Common Cockpit avionics suite and the
mission systems allows the aircrew to
spend less time interpreting data and more
time prosecuting the target,” said George
Barton, Lockheed Martin’s director of
Naval helicopter programs.
The companies expect to deliver up to
27 missionized MH-60R aircraft in calen-
dar year 2010 to the U.S. Navy as part of a
five-year contract for 139 MH-60R aircraft
through 2013. Extra production capacity
exists to deliver an additional 20 aircraft
each year for sale by the U.S. Government
to international navies. “The MH-60R is
not an incremental upgrade. The weapon
system is a significant upgrade in ASW/
ASuW capability over legacy aircraft. The
Romeo can carry more weapons, has an
important man/machine interface, vibra-
tion control and reduced overall owner-
ship costs.”
Lockheed Martin Delivers 50th Multimission MH-60R to U.S. Navy
Rear Admiral Paul Grosklags, vice commander, Naval Air
Systems Command, gave the keynote address at the Feb.
3 ceremony at the delivery the 50th MH-60R to the U.S.
Navy. Grosklags is a former MH-60 program manager.


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06_RW_030110_RCR_p10_23.indd 20 2/18/10 12:27:05 PM
Aviation Today’s Newsletters
Your comprehensive resources for industry news,
analysis and business information.
Learn the details behind current and anticipated joint ventures and mergers, get the
latest in purchasing and leasing trends, discover emerging markets and prot from
exclusive Aircraft Value Tabulation & Index and Aircraft Value Analysis tables.
Receive a free trial subscription at:
Discover the only award-winning newsletter devoted exclusively to news and analysis
of aviation safety. Timely coverage of key safety issues, FAA regulations, and NTSB
investigations. Trends in aviation law, news and analysis of aviation safety technology.
Receive a free trial subscription at:
Receive coverage on key economic metrics, federal policies and regulations,
technology changes, trends in aircraft values, nancing, leasing and insurance, airport
costs and their impact on companies and fuel eciency tactics.
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06_RW_030110_RCR_p10_23.indd 21 2/18/10 11:30:55 AM
22 RotoR & Wing magazine | maRch 2010 WWW. R ot o R a n d Wi n g . c o m
Rotorcraft Report
■ Military
DoD Budget Seeks Funding for 117 Helicopters, 35 V-22s
Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who
often talks about how vital rotorcraft are
in the war on terrorists in Afghanistan and
elsewhere, puts his money where his mouth
is in the new defense budget unveiled Feb.
1. The fiscal 2011 Pentagon spending plan
asks Congress for $9.6 billion to add 117
helicopters and 35 V-22 Osprey tiltrotors
to the military inventory.
The helicopters are mostly for the
Army, which relies on rotary wing aircraft
more than the other armed services. The
budget boosts spending on all Army air-
craft by nearly $900 million—an 18 percent
increase over the $5.07 billion Congress
approved for the current fiscal year, 2010.
That 18 percent compares with a total
defense budget increase of 1.8 percent.
Of the increase for Army aviation, 72
percent is for new helicopters or upgrades
and modifications to existing ones. Most
of the rest is for new unmanned aerial
vehicles, another Gates priority. The Army
budget also includes money to create a
13th Combat Aviation Brigade in addition
to a 12th CAB the Army is organizing. The
Army is using helicopters it already has
to create the 12th CAB but will buy new
ones—just how many isn’t certain yet—to
come up with the 113 aircraft required for
the 13th CAB.
“How we will actually end up distribut-
ing the aircraft between the 12th CAB and
the 13th CAB and other Army competing
requirements for aircraft support—yet to
be determined,” Lt. Gen. Edgar Stanton,
military deputy for budget in the office of
the Army comptroller, told reporters.
The move to beef up rotary wing capa-
bility includes a 9 percent increase in
spending to train aircrews on top of a
$426-million increase in service budgets
for aircrew training Congress approved for
fiscal 2010. One of the Pentagon budget’s
goals is “rebalancing this military to focus
on current, or today’s, wars,” Pentagon
Comptroller Robert Hale told reporters.
“We sometimes have helicopters without
available crews, so last year, we increased
Soldiers from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit survey the area around Corail, Haiti
in late January before boarding a Bell-Boeing MV-22. The U.S. Department of Defense
budget for the upcoming fiscal year includes a request for 30 MV-22B Ospreys for the
Marines and five CV-22B troop transport versions for the Air Force.




U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates
06_RW_030110_RCR_p10_23.indd 22 2/18/10 12:27:26 PM
Rotorcraft Report
23 March 2010 | rotor & Wing Magazine WWW. r ot o r a n d Wi n g . c o M
the funding for aircrew training.” By fiscal
2012, he said, “we expect to be training
1,500 crews a year, about a 20-percent
increase compared to before this started.”
The Army budget includes $1.23 bil-
lion to buy 42 CH-47F Chinooks made by
Boeing Co., $305 million for 50 UH-72A
Lakota light utility helicopters built by the
American Eurocopter division of EADS
North America, and $1.4 billion for 74
Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. UH-60 Black
Hawks the Army flies in various versions.
The Army is buying H-60s under a joint
Army-Navy multiyear contract the ser-
vices awarded Sikorsky in 2007.
Another $494 million of the Army’s
budget would pay for modifying eight
Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopters
to the AH-64D Longbow Block III version,
which adds a mast-mounted fire control
radar and other new gear to the aircraft.
The Navy plans to buy 24 new MH-
60R Seahawks for $1.16 billion and 18
MH-60S versions for $548 million in fiscal
2011 under the multiyear deal for H-60s
it shares with the Army. The MH-60R is
primarily for antisubmarine warfare mis-
sions. The Navy uses the H-60S to carry
cargo and personnel and for search and
rescue missions.
The Navy budget also includes $897
million for the Marines to buy two new
Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. AH-1Z Super
Cobras in addition to converting eight
AH-1Ws into AH-1Zs and 18 Bell UH-1Y
Hueys into UH-1Zs—an increase of five
H-1Zs of both types over fiscal 2010. Bell
had been building new UH-1Y Hueys but
only modifying old AH-1Ws into AH-1Zs
until last year. The new-build Super Cobras
were added after the Marines found that,
because of losses in Afghanistan and Iraq
and old AH-1s simply wearing out, they
were going to fall 40 short of their need
unless they started building new ones.
The Navy and Air Force budgets
include $2.6 billion to buy 30 more MV-
22B Ospreys for the Marines and five
CV-22B versions of the tiltrotor troop
transport for the Air Force—the number
scheduled under a five-year contract
awarded in 2008 to Bell and Boeing, which
make Ospreys under a 50-50 partnership.
The Navy’s research and development
budget also includes $95 million to shut
down the VH-71 presidential helicopter
project, which Gates cancelled last year,
saying the project had doubled in cost and
fallen six years behind schedule.
The Air Force, which uses relatively few
helicopters, is requesting $218 million for
six HH-60G Pave Hawk special operations
versions of the aircraft, three as replace-
ments for Pave Hawks lost in combat. —By
Richard Whittle
The Defense Department budget includes a request for 50 EADS North America/American Eurocopter
UH-72As, at a cost of $305 million.


During a training exercise, a 25th Combat
Aviation Brigade CH-47D Chinook lifts
one of 28 targets at Pohakuloa Training
Area, on Hawaii’s Big Island. Defense
Secretary Robert Gates is seeking
funding for 42 Boeing CH-47 Chinooks
for the Army.

06_RW_030110_RCR_p10_23.indd 23 2/18/10 12:27:46 PM
24 RotoR & Wing magazine | maRch 2010 WWW. R ot o R a n d Wi n g . c o m
Aero Dynamix Ofers L-3 M949
Gen III Night Vision Goggles
Night vision systems provider Aero Dynamix of Euless, Texas has
become a full line distributor for L-3 Electro-Optical Systems’ M949
Generation III night vision goggles. The goggles are built to DO-275
standards with Class B filters, and versions with Class A and C filters
are also available. The M949 has an image intensifier tube, interface
controls, 25mm eyepieces, a clip-on power source and a low-profile
AA battery pack that attaches to the helmet. Contact Aero Dynamix
by phone at 1-817-571-0729, e-mail
or visit
Flight Display Systems
Introduces HD-DVR
Alpharetta, Ga.-based Flight Display Systems unveiled its
FDHDR200 high-definition digital video recorder during
Heli-Expo in late February. Designed for rugged use, the
HD-DVR provides up to eight hours of record time in 1080i
resolution from an HD-SDI camera or other SDI source. The
company says the unit, which comes with two 32GB Com-
pactFlash cards, takes up 50 percent less installation space
than a traditional VHS recorder. FDHDR200 comes in two
variants, including a remote cockpit configuration for helicop-
ters. Initial deliveries of the HD-DVR were scheduled to start in late February. Flight Display Systems can be reached at 1-678-867-6717
or on the web at
Obstacle Warning System
Undergoes Flight Trials
In partnership with the Aviation Applied Technology Directorate
(AATD), Fort Worth, Texas-based Elbit Systems of America has
completed flight tests for its SWORD obstacle warning system for
helicopters. Elbit Systems affiliate Electro-Optics Elop also par-
ticipated in the trails, which were carried out late in 2009 as part
of a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA).
SWORD is a laser radar (LADAR) that provides obstacle detection
alerts in real time for helicopter pilots operating at low altitudes or
in hazardous weather conditions. Flight tests were completed on
AATD’s EH-60L. For more details, contact Elbit Systems of Ameri-
ca at 1-817-234-6799 or visit
For the
month of
07_RW_030110_HotProducts_p24-25.indd 24 2/18/10 2:16:32 PM
25 march 2010 | rotor & Wing magazine WWW. r ot o r a n d Wi n g . c o m
beyerdynamic HS 600 Removes Background Noise
Germany’s beyerdynamic has upgraded its HS 600 digital adaptive noise reduction (DANR) avia-
tion headset to include an Executive version. HS 600 Executive features a leather headband, soft ear
seals with a visco elastic material, glossy wood ear cup finish and a black audio box, where the
user can plug in a mobile phone or MP3 player. The headset also has a microprocessor with a
beyerdynamic-developed software algorithm. The company says that background noise from
traditional analog headsets is “completely eliminated” with DANR headsets. List price of the HS
DANR Executive is $818. It is available at and various
pilot shops. For more details, contact beyerdynamic at 1-239-283-7880 or visit www.
Eye-Lite Camera Available from
Premier Electronics
UK-based Premier Electronics has introduced Eye-Lite, a con-
tinuous zoom thermal imaging camera that provides night vision
capability for both airborne and ground military and paramilitary
surveillance operations. Eye-Lite has two basic versions, a 320 x 240
InSb FPA and a large-format 640 x 480 version, and can be config-
ured for short-term and long-term applications. Premier Electron-
ics, +44 0199-247-8321or visit
Donaldson IBF Ideal for
Mountain Operations
Bloomington, Minn.-based Donaldson Company’s Aero-
space & Defense division has installed its inlet barrier filter
(IBF) on Eurocopter AS350s for Air Dynasty Heli Services
of Nepal. The filters are protecting engines that operate
near the world’s highest mountain peak, landing at up to
16,000 feet asl. Based in St. Louis, Mo., the Aerospace &
Defense division supplies IBFs for the AgustaWestland
AW119/119Ke and AW139; Bell 205A1, 206B and L-vari-
ants, 407, 429 and 430; Eurocopter EC130 and AS350
models; and MD Helicopters 369H series, MD500D/E/F
and MD900/902. Contact Donaldson Aerospace &
Defense at 1-952-887-3435, toll-free (U.S./Canada) at
1-866-323-0394 or visit
07_RW_030110_HotProducts_p24-25.indd 25 2/18/10 2:17:23 PM
On a snowy February
morning, U.S. National
Transportation Safety
Board (NTSB) Chairman
Deborah A.P. Hersman,
left, sat down with
magazine in
her L’Enfant Plaza office
in downtown Washington,
D.C., for a wide-ranging
and broad discussion
about helicopter safety.
By Brian F. Finnegan



Interview with the Honorable Deborah A.P. Hersman
Chairman, National Transportation Safety Board
08_RW_030110_Hersman_Interview_p26_31.indd 26 2/18/10 1:20:55 PM
The Chairman
e were joined in the chair-
man’s of f i ce by NTSB
Executive Officer Thom
Zoeller, Deputy Director of
Aviation Safety for Regional Operations
Jeff Guzzetti, the Chairman’s Confiden-
tial Assistant Cresence Stafford, and
NTSB Public Affairs Officer Keith Hol-
loway. We began by discussing Chair-
man Hersman’s stated mission to “raise
the bar” for what I called the rotorcraft
industry’s struggle to find its way with
financing and safety and the competing
priorities that they present.
Rotor & Wing: I’d like to start by talk-
ing about your “raising the bar” philosophy
with respect to transportation in our highly
regulated industry, particularly helicopters.
What does that raised bar look like for
Hersman: One of the challenges we see
at the Safety Board is that people are often
just meeting the minimums. But some-
times the minimums just aren’t enough.
Unfortunately, it takes a fatal accident and
recommendations from the Safety Board
to identify that. That’s really what our rec-
ommendations do—address areas where
the existing rules, regulations, laws and
requirements aren’t enough to identify the
gaps and the holes in the safety net.
“Raising the bar” is stretching a little bit,
doing something that might get pushback.
It gets people thinking about where they
want to be. I’ll share with you a quote that
I have often used from Roslyn Carter.
“A good leader takes people where they
want to go, but a great leader takes people
where they need to be.” For example, Bell
Helicopter and American Eurocopter are
both working with Appareo to install a
flight recorder on all their new produc-
tion helicopters. Their decision to install
that equipment on newly manufactured
helicopters raises the bar. That’s exactly
what we want to see—voluntary action
leading the way. If they can do it, others can
do it, too.
R&W: When Congress gets involved,
things happen differently than when it’s
just the FAA and others. Do you feel a need
to bypass the lengthy FAA regulatory pro-
cess and go straight to Congress for a law?
Hersman: The Safety Board has been
around for over 40 years and being effec-
tive is always something that’s an evolu-
tion. You have try different approaches. I
think our preference would always be to
go through a normal regulatory process
because FAA houses the expertise to make
the objective decisions, to do the research,
to bring together the stakeholders in the
industry … and really, perhaps, achieve the
right conclusion.
Our recommendations are fairly broad
and we’d like for FAA to make the right
decision. What we’ve found throughout
our history, though, is that we can only wait
up to a point. The FAA does have huge
challenges. They have over 500 open rec-
ommendations from the NTSB right now.
It is a burden for them. The question you
have to ask is ‘How do they prioritize those
500-plus recommendations?”
One way that we help them prioritize
is through our Most Wanted list. We had
issued recommendations on HEMS [heli-
copter emergency medical services] and
for years they went unheeded. After wait-
ing for a year, two years, we made the deci-
sion to add HEMS to our most wanted list.
R&W: In Safety Recommendation
A-09-106, you ask the Centers for Medi-
care & Medicaid Services (CMS) to devel-
op wide ranging ‘minimum safety accredi-
tation standards for HEMS operators that
augment the operating standards of 14
CFR 135.’ Do you see accreditation stan-
dards on the next Most Wanted list?
Hersman: This is one of those situa-
tions the Safety Board had tried to address
through the FAA. After years of inaction,
we needed a new approach. When we held
our public hearing last year on helicopter
EMS issues, the curtain was raised on
many industry practices regarding com-
petition and scarce resources. We saw that
the scales are not balanced.
You can have one operator with newer,
better safety equipment and you can have
another without extra safety equipment
installed, such as TAWS [terrain avoidance
warning system] or night vision goggles.
Even though they are clearly in different
financial postures competing for the same
business, if they are being reimbursed
through Medicare, they are getting paid a
flat rate. However, the taxpayer receiving
service doesn’t get to pick between the
good investment with high standards and
a committed company safety culture or the
We had to level this playing field some-
how. If FAA was not going to put for-
ward regulatory requirements for safety
enhancements, we wondered where else
we could look to achieve some parity, to
raise the bar. We followed the money and,
frankly, it was pretty simple. We feel that
CMS has an obligation when they are
reimbursing a company and should do
their due diligence.
R&W: Has the Safety Board given con-
sideration to addressing any recommenda-
tions to the insurance industry?
Hersman: To my knowledge, we
haven’t. We did have an insurance consul-
tant on one of the panels for the HEMS
hearing and we’ve had insurance folks on
other panels. We understand that there are
a number of ways to skin the cat and we are
looking at those opportunities now.
The Safety Board is very persistent and
we’re trying to be flexible in the way that
we look at things. The recommendation
that you just asked me about—regarding
the accreditation process—is a demonstra-
tion that we are willing to think out of the
box and not pursue just the sole regulatory
path. It’s a good point and I have taken the
opportunity to meet with insurance com-
pany staff in the past to ask them what we
could do.
R&W: After the August 8, 2009, midair
over the Hudson River, both the FAA and
the Safety Board were quick to issue rec-
Hersman: The FAA convened a work-
ing group about five days after the accident
and their recommendations came out a
few weeks after that. Our recommenda-
tions preceded the FAA panel’s recom-
mendations, but they were very similar.
There were a lot of synergies there.
R&W: Was there collaboration?
Hersman: No.
R&W: Is it appropriate to collaborate?
Hersman: The Safety Board feels there
is value in us being able to understand
what’s going on with the industry and the
FAA, but we also value our independence
and we think it’s important for there to be
some separation. The public is counting
on us to take an independent stance and
have a critical eye about what’s going on in
08_RW_030110_Hersman_Interview_p26_31.indd 27 2/18/10 1:21:15 PM
28 RotoR & Wing magazine | maRch 2010 WWW. R ot o R a n d Wi n g . c o m
the industry and with the regulators. We
have to be the watchdog of the regulators,
so to speak.
We don’t want to be involved in their
decision-making process because at some
point in the future we might be called to
investigate an accident that resulted from
some activity that they’ve taken and we
want to be free to identify any shortcom-
ings without having ownership of them.
We do need to make sure that we are
getting feedback, but we do maintain our
independence and we guard it fiercely.
Sometimes that means putting a wall
down to separate ourselves.
R&W: Data indicate that the number
one cause of HEMS accidents is inadver-
tent flight into IMC (instrument meteo-
rological conditions) and you’ve addressed
that with several recommendations, in
particular asking for two pilots or autopi-
lot. Do you see two pilots or autopilot as a
Most Wanted item?
Hersman: We’re going to be having
our Most Wanted list meeting two weeks
from now (Feb. 18, 2010). I really cannot
comment on that until the board adopts a
new list. I will say that the HEMS issue area
on our Most Wanted list is one of the most
visible and one that has a high degree of
public and Congressional attention. There
have been efforts to adopt all of our Most
Wanted list recommendations in legisla-
tive vehicles, verbatim, both on the House
and on the Senate side in the past couple
years. That’s a testament to the Most
Wanted list and how it serves its purpose.
It helps us to identify, of those hundreds of
open recommendations, which ones we
think need immediate action.
R&W: Regarding fatigue, there is a
recommendation that the FAA Aerospace
Medical Certification exam for pilots
include some kind of sleep apnea analysis
(A-09-61). Then you go forward and you
actually make a recommendation directly
to the Maryland State Police (A-09-134)
that they develop their own sleep apnea
recognition program. With the FAA rec-
ommendation already in place, why would
you make a specific recommendation to
Maryland State Police? Also, if it were
important enough to mention it to the
Maryland State Police, why wouldn’t you
just recommend it to the whole industry?
Hersman: By asking the FAA to address
it on medical certificates, that’s our effort to
reach the entire population. However, we
recognize those changes might take some
time to occur.
When we go to an accident investiga-
tion, especially a fatal accident, we some-
times find an organization who may not
want us there and is uncomfortable that
we’re investigating. They may not really
want to share information. With the Mary-
land State Police, that was not at all what
we found. They really wanted to take an
internal look and say: ‘This was devastating
to us. We want to figure out anything we
can do to make our operation better.’ Some
of our discussions with the Maryland State
Police led us to believe that they were will-
ing to be industry leaders when it came to
adopting and making change.
On the sleep apnea issue, there was a
recognition among the family members
of the pilot and the crewmates who served
with him. This gentleman snored so loudly
in the crew quarters that everyone knew
when he was there. Our investigators felt
they could ask Maryland State Police to
be an industry leader and demonstrate to
other operators how they did this. It wasn’t
singling them out. We’re saying, ‘How can
we raise the bar?’ If we have individual
organizations that are willing to lead, then
that’s helpful to everyone in the industry.
R&W: Is there a process by which you
can follow up or give them an opportunity
to share how they’ve gone forward?
Hersman: Since we’ve made the rec-
ommendation to them, it’s open. They
have an obligation to respond to us about
their plans. We also have a concurrent
obligation to check in with them to get a
status update on how they’re progress-
ing. Our investigators had such a positive
experience with the Maryland State Police
leadership that we felt good about mak-
ing that recommendation to them. Now,
if they can’t get the resources or execute a
program like that, that’s another issue. It
was worth making the effort to ask. With
every organization, adversity makes them
take a step back and look at their processes
and procedures and really reevaluate what’s
important and what they want to do.
In the past 25 years, the number of HEMS operators in the state of Missouri has more than tripled. While a concern, the NTSB Chairman says it is trying to
ensure anyone operating in a geographic area regardless of whether it is “one operator or 15 operators, they are doing so at the highest level of safety.”
Q&A | ntSB
08_RW_030110_Hersman_Interview_p26_31.indd 28 2/18/10 1:21:38 PM
29 March 2010 | rotor & Wing Magazine WWW. r ot o r a n d Wi n g . c o M
The Chairman
Grand Total of Static and Dynamic Scores
norMaL green Pilot approval 0 - 14
FLight Manager
YeLLoW call Manager 15 - 18
UnaccePtaBLe red cancel Flight 19 or greater
< 6 mos. on current Job +1
< 1 yr. in eMS +1
< 200 hrs. in type +1
> 500 hrs. in type -1
Last Flight > 30 days +1
Last night Flight > 30 days (night requests only) +1
6 mos. Since check ride +2
cockpit not configured for inadvertent iMc +1
navigation or radio item on MeL +1
Back-up aircraft +1
newly-installed equipment (i.e., satellite phone, avionics, gPS) +1
night Vision goggles (nVg) equipped -1
< 3 nVg Flights in the Last 120 days +1
Medical crew < 1 yrs. experience (both crewmembers) +1
iFr Program -4
VFr Program +1
external Stresses (divorce, illness, family/work issues/conflicts) +1
Total Static Score
ceiling within 200’ of Program Minimums +1
Visibility within 1 Mile of goM Minimums +1
Precipitation with convective activity +1
convective activity with Frontal Passage +1
deteriorating Weather trend +1
high Wind or gust Spread defined by operations Manual +2
Moderate turbulence +2
temperature/dew Point < 3 degrees F +1
Forecast Fog, Snow, or ice +2
Weather reporting at destination -1
Mountainous or hostile terrain +1
class B or c airspace +1
ground reference Low +1
ground reference high -1
night Flight +1
90% of Usable Fuel required (not including reserve) +1
Flight turned down by other operators due to Weather (if known) +4
Control Measures
delay Flight -1
avoid Mountainous/hostile terrain -1
Utilize Pre-designated Lzs for Scene requests -1
Plan alternate Fuel Stop -1
Familiarization training (self-directed) -1
Total Dynamic Score
08_RW_030110_Hersman_Interview_p26_31.indd 29 2/18/10 1:21:54 PM
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16551 AT ad for AM_full.indd 1 10/01/2009 2:24:46 PM
R&W: We put a message on the Rotor
& Wing Facebook page that we were going
to have this interview with you to make
sure we at least gave the industry an oppor-
tunity to come up with some topics for dis-
cussion and we got a few comments back.
Hersman: Great! This is my favorite
part. Questions from the people.
R&W: OK, well here’s one. Should
there be a limit on the number of HEMS
operations in a given geographic area or
region? (See charts on page 28.)
Hersman: The Safety Board is trying to
ensure that whoever is operating in a geo-
graphic area or region, regardless of wheth-
er it’s one operator or 15 operators, they are
doing so at the highest level of safety. We
are fully cognizant of some of the pressures
that emerge when you have a competitive
market and so that is what was at the heart
of our recommendations last September to
FICEMS (Federal Interagency Committee
on EMS) and CMS. We think that if there
are higher standards, then perhaps you can
weed out some of the less safe operators.
R&W: I did not find any maintenance
discussion in the last round of recommen-
dations, but I did find quite a few mainte-
nance issues in the tour operators recom-
mendations that were published in 2008.
Are maintenance problems a broader issue
than just with tour operators or were they
just not a problem in these EMS accidents?
Hersman: We make our recommen-
dations based on each accident that we
investigate and we see what the issues are.
I don’t think that means that maintenance
is not an issue across the board because
it’s always an issue. You’ve got to stay on
top of that, especially as fleets age. We did
not find maintenance issues in Trooper 2.
We’ve looked at other HEMS accidents
and I think you’ve hit the nail on the head.
By and large, we found that they were
human factors issues. The majority of them
were happening at night, or in weather. It’s
trying to keep pilots out of those higher risk
situations that were a problem. The facts of
the accidents are going to speak to us.
Everybody has got to stay on top of mainte-
nance. It’s the human, the machine and the
environment in which you are operating.
Those are the three things. You’ve got to be
on top of that.
R&W: What about public use aircraft?
Is it the Safety Board’s view that the FAA
should have regulatory authority over
all non-military aircraft operating in the
national air space?
Hersman: One particular concern in
the Maryland State Police accident, which
was public use, was that we could not get
a consistent read from the FAA about
whether or not EMS operators should be
covered by them. Our concern is that it
doesn’t matter whether they are private,
for hire, commercial operators or they
are public use. They are still providing a
service. We want to make sure everybody
is operating at the same high standards.
Maryland State Police were actually seek-
ing FAA oversight.
They wanted to get the FAR Part 135
Certificate and the FAA couldn’t figure out
whether or not they wanted to do that or
if they could do that. That is an issue that
concerns us. If an operator wants this type
of oversight and to have these standards,
we ought to be doing that.
R&W: Regarding electronic news
gathering (ENG) organizations, the Safety
Board recommended at the beginning of
2009 that FAA host annual safety confer-
ences (A-09-06) to discuss operational and
safety issues affecting all ENG as well as
those pertaining to their specific region.
How can operators and associations work
to support this recommendation?
Hersman: We recognize the value of
organizational leadership. Groups such
as IHST (International Helicopter Safety
Team) and HAI (Helicopter Association
International) are many times the ones
who can put together a collaborative effort.
They’re ones that achieve voluntary indus-
try audit standards and help to raise the
bar. They can reach out to their member-
ship in a way that is non-punitive and help
support them.
We value the role that they can play and
we would encourage any efforts that would
result in better information dissemination,
communication, collaboration and sup-
port for operators in a particular area when
it comes to safety. Frankly, we’ve seen a lot
of voluntary measures taking place absent
FAA requirements. The FAA has not really
been delivering on the mandatory require-
R&W: But even if the wealthy organi-
zations improve like that, you’re still going
to have the laggards. Aren’t the laggards
really the only ones for whom the regula-
tions are written?
Hersman: Well, the bottom feeders are
always going to be a problem in any indus-
try. There is always going to be someone
trying to figure out how to do something
cheaper and easier. The public can’t figure
out how to differentiate between operators
and that is really the tragedy of it. In the
absence of regulatory action, you’re going
to have people who are way behind on the
power curve of safety.
For example, we were told that the
majority of the industry had voluntarily
adopted risk matrices for making the go/
no-go decisions. Then we investigated
accident after accident where an operator
didn’t have them. Or they would say, ‘Well,
they’re not written. We kind of do it in our
head.’ Well that’s not assessing risk. It’s so
easy and it’s cheap. We’ve appended them
to our report [Special Investigation Report
on Emergency Medical Services Opera-
tions. For a sample risk assessment from
that report, see page 30]. Print them out or
put them on your computer and use them.
What’s the weather? What are the lighting
conditions? What is my experience? These
are pretty straightforward things.
R&W: Finally, what can we do to ensure
that your message of raising the bar gets
out to the industry and how can industry
support the mission of the Safety Board?
Hersman: People who read the maga-
zine can help by advocating for our recom-
mendations. If they think there are things
that they want to see happen, whether it’s
through the rule-making committees they
participate in at the FAA or whether it’s
through Congress, keep us informed about
what’s going on. It goes back to what I said
at the very beginning of our conversation.
A lot of voluntary things are being done
out there to raise the bar.
It is a challenging environment that
helicopters operate in. They have mis-
sions that I think would probably make a
lot of other people very uncomfortable.
Every day when they come in and they
shut it down and it’s been a safe day, that’s
something they should be proud of. When
you ask how they can help us—it’s by not
having accidents. Don’t just take organiza-
tional responsibility; take personal respon-
sibility. Do the right thing when nobody’s
08_RW_030110_Hersman_Interview_p26_31.indd 30 2/18/10 1:22:10 PM
Extra Mile
ody 1st paragraph Combat unit
training scenarios must include
a continuum of threat levels
designed to train students to
avoid, degrade, defeat or destroy threat
systems in order to survive. Man-por-
table air defense systems (MANPADs),
present one of the most lethal threats to
helicopters since Vietnam. Training to
deal with them impossible.
Aviation Today is your Internet-hub for market intelligence and business
resources. Our editorial staff makes your job easier by providing expert
analysis of the issues which affect your business every day, including:
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Airports/ground services
Cargo/freight forwarding
International coverage of major, regional, and start-up airlines
Aviation Today Publications Include:
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Aircraft Value News
Aviation Today’s Daily Brief
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Rotor & Wing magazine
Plus, with Aviation Today, you’ll receive these great
resources right at your fingertips:
Aviation Today’s E-letter
Calendar of Industry Events
Industry Links
Job Board
Visit today!
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Social Networking
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16551 AT ad for AM_full.indd 1 10/01/2009 2:24:46 PM
08_RW_030110_Hersman_Interview_p26_31.indd 31 2/18/10 11:39:14 AM
fter a horrible year in 2008, when
HEMS fatalities ballooned to
29, the industry experienced six
fatalities in 2009, according to
the National Transportation Safety Board
(NTSB). While this may be a statistical
anomaly, safety awareness is high. Rotor &
Wing spoke to NTSB and operators about
several NTSB recommendations.
NTSB added HEMS to its Most Want-
ed List in October 2008 (see sidebar, page
34). The following September the board
issued 19 recommendations—to FAA,
public operators, EMS agencies, and the
Center for Medicare and Medicaid Servic-
es (CMS)—ranging from the installation of
aircraft safety equipment to evaluation of
the government insurance system’s reim-
bursement rate structure. While agreeing
that some progress has been made since
then, NTSB member Robert Sumwalt
declared: “Six fatalities [in 2009] are six too
many. I don’t want people to think … that
the system is fixed.”
One disaster in the FAA’s backyard
probably cranked up pressure on the agen-
cy to address NTSB’s concerns. That was
the Sept. 27, 2008, Maryland State Police
crash, killing four of the five on board. Last
April FAA announced a HEMS rulemak-
ing project covering, among other things,
helicopter terrain awareness and warning
systems (H-TAWS), radar altimeters, oper-
ational control centers, Part 135 weather
minimums for all legs, risk management,
flight data monitoring, inadvertent IMC
currency, and weather reporting relief for
IFR operations.
Part 135 vs. Part 91
Although EMS operators can fly under
the less stringent Part 91 rules in certain
circumstances, the board’s Most Wanted
List calls for Part 135 on all flight legs with
medical personnel on board. An NTSB
report covering 55 fixed-wing and rotary-
wing EMS accidents from January 2002
to January 2005 found that 35 of them had
occurred while operating under Part 91.
Sumwalt praised the revisions to FAA’s
A021 HEMS Ops Spec, which addresses
some concerns about weather reporting.
A021 states that if a flight or sequence
of flights includes a Part 135 segment,
then all VFR segments must follow the
(higher) weather minimums and flight
planning requirements in A021 or be con-
ducted under IFR. And it also gives opera-
tors credit for use of night vision goggles
(NVGs) or TAWS.
A021 also encourages IFR operations
by allowing operators to use weather
reporting within 15 miles of the destina-
By Charlotte Adams
How can HEMS operators balance the competitive nature of business
with challenges like the need for the latest safety equipment and the
overhead of infrastructure and sufficient crews?
Flight nurse Jackie Turcotte (left) and flight
paramedic Bob Johnson move a patient
from LifeFlight of Maine’s AgustaWestland
AW109 to the emergency department at
Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston.


09_RW_030110_HEMS_Update_p32_35.indd 32 2/18/10 12:38:43 PM
Safety Awareness
tion area or an area forecast if the former is
not available.
The main difference between Part 135
and Part 91 is duty hours, according to Jim
Swartz, president and CEO of CareFlite, a
small operator with six helicopters. (The
maximum duty period for pilots in single-
pilot, Part 135 non-scheduled HEMS
operations is 14 hours, while Part 91 has no
duty time restrictions.) The pilot has to be
rested and his situation continuously con-
sidered during flight under either regime,
Swartz said. But operators ought to be
able to reposition aircraft and fly without
patients under Part 91.
With four exceptions, CareFlite flies
everything to the Part 135 standard, said
Ray Dauphinais, vice president and direc-
tor of operations. These are maintenance
flights and training flights, which don’t
carry passengers, administrative flights,
as approved by the director of operations,
and the outbound legs of IFR flights with
CareFlite medical personnel on board.
Outbound IFR flights use Part 91 for
weather requirements, Dauphinais said.
Part 91 lets you use an area forecast, he said.
CareFlite schedules 12 hours duty time.
But on the final leg, if a pilot “wanted to go
91 back” and if it looks like the pilot might
exceed his 14-hour maximum, Dauphinais
has to be called. It’s a case-by-case decision,
based on the weather, how long you’ve
been flying and familiarity with the des-
tination, he said. “They don’t call me very
often.” If the company anticipates a duty
time issue, it will reposition the aircraft. As
far as actual flight time goes, a high-time
flight day is typically 3 to 3.5 hours, he
said. The average patient transport flight is
about 48 minutes.
OmniFlight, a mid-sized operator with
around 90 helicopters, flies all legs under
Part 135, according to Ray Wall, vice presi-
dent of flight operations and safety and
compliance. The NTSB recommended
that EMS operators use Part 135 rules pri-
marily for the weather minimums, he said.
OmniFlight’s weather minimums were “a
little bit higher” than what NTSB recom-
mended. The company flies VFR and IFR
depending on customer need.
Air Methods, a large operator with
301 helicopters and around 15 fixed-wing
aircraft, also flies all flight legs under Part
135, according to Ed Stockhausen, direc-
tor of safety. This includes outbound and
positioning legs and even if there are no
medical crewmembers on board.
LifeFlight of Maine (LFM), an “indirect
operator” that owns its helicopters but
contracts with Part 135 operator EraMED
to fly them. LifeFlight and Era have policies
that anytime anybody other than an Era
employee is on the Era-operated aircraft,
it’s Part 135, said Thomas Judge, executive
director. All flight segments are conducted
under full Part 135 requirements. “When
medical crew are on board whether it is
an outbound or empty leg back home, the
flight is Part 135. If I get on the aircraft, it’s
Part 135,” he said.
The flat-rate reimbursement structure
of this government program is a sore point
with the better-equipped operators. But
fixing the system won’t be easy. As of early
February, the Center for Medicare and
Medicaid Services had not responded to
NTSB’s recommendation that they evalu-
ate the rate structure. NTSB recommend-
ed, among other things, that CMS establish
accreditation standards and make sure
that only carriers meeting the standards be
reimbursed by Medicare.
“You can fly an old single-engine air-
craft that’s been in aviation longer than I
have and get paid the same amount … for
a twin-engine IFR aircraft,” said CareFlite’s
Swartz. “It could be a 206 that’s 30 years
old.” In the free enterprise system, he
added, “you cannot expect safety to get bet-
ter when the incentives are against it.”
LFM’s Judge agreed. The current reim-
bursement system “incentivizes the lowest
cost for the most profit—it’s a problem
when it comes to safety,” he said. LifeFlight
has one of the oldest and poorest popula-
tions in the country. Forty-three percent of
its patients have no insurance and another
40 percent are on Medicare or Medicaid.
So LFM is reimbursed at much less than
cost, Judge said. That’s why it has a chari-
table foundation.
IFR Infrastructure
LifeFlight views IFR infrastructure as
its No. 1 priority. Basically a public util-
ity in Maine, LifeFlight owns two full-IFR
AgustaWestland AW109 Powers. About
HEMS Recommendations on NTSB’s Most Wanted List:
* Part 135 during all flight legs with medical personnel on board—open, unaccept-
able response;
*Flight risk evaluation programs—open, unacceptable response;
*Formalized dispatch and flight following procedures, including timely weather
information—open, acceptable response; and
*Terrain awareness and warning systems (TAWS), including training—open, unac-
ceptable response.
Safety awareness is high at HEMS operators like CareFlite.
09_RW_030110_HEMS_Update_p32_35.indd 33 2/18/10 12:39:00 PM
34 RotoR & Wing magazine | maRch 2010 WWW. R ot o R a n d Wi n g . c o m
Cobham Avionics is aggressively
pursuing certifications for HeliSAS:
• STCs for Bell 206/407. Projected for
June, 2010 via Edwards & Associates.
• STC for Eurocopter AS350. Projected
for 4th quarter, 2010.
The HeliSAS
Autopilot and Stability
Augmentation System delivers a number
of workload reduction and safety en-
hancements, including significant stability
improvement and automatic recovery to
near-level flight attitude.
HeliSAS provides many of the functions found
in heavy, expensive helicopter autopilots, but
at a fraction of the cost and weight:
• Safe. Enhanced control while dramatically
reducing pilot workload.
• Affordable. Cost-efficient safety feature
for Part 27 helicopters.
• Lightweight. Parallel design = fewer
components = total system weight of
less than 16 pounds.
• All-Digital. Full-authority system based on
a dual-processor, fail-passive architecture.
Cobham Avionics
Integrated Systems
One S-TEC Way
Municipal Airport
Mineral Wells, TX 76067
(817) 215-7600
© 2010 Cobham, plc. All rights reserved.
Now TSO'd by the FAA!
The most important thing we build is trust
Autopilot and
Stability Augmentation System
Lightweight, affordable stability in an unstable world
1 The HeliSAS will automatically
recover to a neutral attitude
when the cyclic is released.
2 The HeliSAS
control panel is just 5.75” x 0.75” and weighs only 0. 53 pounds.
CAIS428_RtrWng_MAR10_HeliSAS.4.indd 1 2/8/10 9:59 AM
20 percent of its flights are tied to IFR. The
nonprofit charitable medical organization
has completed 21 GPS approaches, with
another 18 in the works. It is building a
low-level IFR route structure that will link
all the GPS approaches and hospitals. LFM
has built 31 hospital helipads and 10 com-
munity helipads, and worked to provide
fuel trucks at two airports in order to refuel
aircraft at remote hospitals. LFM has also
finished six of a planned 14 automated
weather observation systems (AWOSs) to
help fill in the grid.
IFR is important to Air Methods, as
well. The company has 61 GPS non-pre-
cision approaches and is developing wide
area augmentation system (WAAS) IFR
infrastructures at two of its programs.
CareFlite is in the midst of an FAA
IFR infrastructure program, which is “like
a test case,” Swartz said. It already has 17
non-precision GPS approaches. The com-
pany flies four AW109 Powers certified for
single-pilot IFR and two Bell 222s that don’t
fly in weather. At night, outside the local
flying area, the company requires pilots to
go IFR, Swartz said. “Twin-engine IFR was
the single most important safety upgrade.”
Every pilot is given about an hour a month
to practice IFR without an instructor on
board. CareFlite has also added a camera-
based recording system on a couple of
aircraft and plans to add NVGs.
Tracking and Dispatch
Although EMS is very competitive
in New England, in an ongoing effort to
improve safety, LifeFlight collaborates with
other providers in the region. All of the
programs in New England have agreed to
use a Web-based system that allows each
program to track the others’ aircraft in
real time. This system includes DHART
at Dartmouth-Hitchcock in New Hamp-
shire/Vermont (Metro), Boston MedFlight
(Era), UMASS LifeFlight, (Air Methods)
and LifeStar in Connecticut (Air Meth-
ods), as well as LFM. This arrangement lets
the control centers know when they have
aircraft going to the same location, so that
their pilots can communicate with each
other. The communications centers can
also talk to each other. Both LFM and Era
also follow LifeFlight’s helicopters through
a satellite tracking system in their respec-
tive communications centers. OmniFlight,
for its part, has 15
centers around
the country and a
centralized opera-
tional control cen-
ter at corporate
headquarters i n
Addison, Texas. Air
Methods likewise has an operational con-
trol center that tracks all of its aircraft.
“We have at least one qualified EMS
helicopter pilot in the control center at
all times,” Stockhausen said. In addition,
OmniFlight is in the midst of a Line Oper-
ations Safety Audit (LOSA)—the first
helicopter company to have done it.
The big news at OmniFlight is its
Safety Management System rollout, the
first SMS under the new FAA framework.
“The intent is to include every person in
that process in every aspect of the orga-
nization,” Wall said. In addition to giving
risk assessment tools to the employees,
there are quarterly audits and daily inputs
by employees into a hazard registry. A
senior management SMS council reviews
all events and the root causes of every
type of event.
OmniFlight sifts and analyzes huge
amounts of data. Every pilot, technician
and clinician has to report anything that
seems amiss, from the smallest thing to
an incident or higher, Wall said. Weath-
er aborts (with details) and duty time
exceedances also are reported. This event
reporting database allows OmniFlight to
track and trend operational data down to
the problem history of an individual piece
of equipment like a fuel pump. Commu-
nications within the company are also a
high priority. There are daily conference
calls on maintenance and operations and
a monthly telecom to update all employ-
ees on operational issues. There is also a
compliance hotline run by a third-party
vendor for anonymous safety complaints.
CareFlite is implementing an SMS pro-
gram, as well. And Air Methods is part of
FAA’s SMS pilot project, including 68 com-
panies. The SMS encompasses flight oper-
ations, communications, maintenance,
repair station and product sectors.
No Pressure Initiative
The National EMS Pilots Association (NEMSPA) is attacking the pressure problem through
its No Pressure Initiative (NPI). The foundation of NPI was a survey the association con-
ducted of 257 pilots. Thirty-six percent said they sometimes or frequently pressured
themselves to accept or complete flights; 24 percent said they sometimes or frequently
felt pressured by competition to do so; and 23 percent replied they sometimes or fre-
quently felt pressure from management to do so.
NPI features three layers of protection, including culture, risk assessment and the
enroute decision point (EDP). Particularly interesting is the EDP, which “puts hard num-
bers on a flight, based on airspeed and altitude,” said Kent Johnson, NEMSPA president.
Basically, at night it’s cruise airspeed minus 30 knots and 500 feet AGL. So if your airspeed
sinks from 120 to 85 knots, the EDP protocol says it’s time to turn around or land.
EDP is meant to keep pilots from plunging ahead on missions in deteriorating weath-
er conditions when, even though they may not know it, they are becoming tentative. It’s
analogous to the decision height on an ILS approach. When the pilot reaches the listed
limitations, he must make a decision. And continuing on the present course, as before, is
not an option, according to NEMSPA literature.
The association also surveyed 13 pilots who have used the EDP protocol for several
years. Eight-five percent considered it a very effective aid in deciding whether or not to
continue flight into marginal weather conditions and 31 percent said EDP had helped
them decide to abort a flight or significantly alter the flight plan route more than five
NEMSPA is also working with fatigue expert Mark Rosekind to implement an on-line
alertness management program. Johnson hopes to have the “Z-Coach” training program
available on the NEMSPA website in the near future.
LFM’s Thomas Judge
PublIc ServIce | emS
09_RW_030110_HEMS_Update_p32_35.indd 34 2/18/10 12:39:27 PM
35 March 2010 | rotor & Wing Magazine WWW. r ot o r a n d Wi n g . c o M
Cobham Avionics is aggressively
pursuing certifications for HeliSAS:
• STCs for Bell 206/407. Projected for
June, 2010 via Edwards & Associates.
• STC for Eurocopter AS350. Projected
for 4th quarter, 2010.
The HeliSAS
Autopilot and Stability
Augmentation System delivers a number
of workload reduction and safety en-
hancements, including significant stability
improvement and automatic recovery to
near-level flight attitude.
HeliSAS provides many of the functions found
in heavy, expensive helicopter autopilots, but
at a fraction of the cost and weight:
• Safe. Enhanced control while dramatically
reducing pilot workload.
• Affordable. Cost-efficient safety feature
for Part 27 helicopters.
• Lightweight. Parallel design = fewer
components = total system weight of
less than 16 pounds.
• All-Digital. Full-authority system based on
a dual-processor, fail-passive architecture.
Cobham Avionics
Integrated Systems
One S-TEC Way
Municipal Airport
Mineral Wells, TX 76067
(817) 215-7600
© 2010 Cobham, plc. All rights reserved.
Now TSO'd by the FAA!
The most important thing we build is trust
Autopilot and
Stability Augmentation System
Lightweight, affordable stability in an unstable world
1 The HeliSAS will automatically
recover to a neutral attitude
when the cyclic is released.
2 The HeliSAS
control panel is just 5.75” x 0.75” and weighs only 0. 53 pounds.
CAIS428_RtrWng_MAR10_HeliSAS.4.indd 1 2/8/10 9:59 AM
09_RW_030110_HEMS_Update_p32_35.indd 35 2/18/10 11:41:21 AM
Abyss: A deep or seemingly bottomless chasm; the
regions of hell conceived as a bottomless pit; night flight
over significant bodies of water.
By Dan Deutermann
10_RW_030110_Abyss_p36_39.indd 36 2/18/10 12:57:17 PM
magine for a moment that a single-
piloted, passenger-carrying heli-
copter leaves on a VFR flight plan
from its airport-based helipad,
enroute to a remote island 20 miles off-
shore. The flight was intended to take
off in the late afternoon, however the
VIPs were delayed until after sunset.
Weather is reported as overcast at 6K, 6
miles in haze, 28°C, calm winds, and no
significant weather is forecasted along
the route. The VFR-rated pilot is current
to fly at night, however all previous night
flying has occurred overland primarily
at the airport where he is based and, up
until now, there has never been a need
to go to the island at night. Yet the pilot is
quite comfortable with the venture and
is looking forward to logging some more
night VMC time enroute to the familiar
The pilot crosses the coastline and
wisely elects to engage the flight director.
As he levels off at 1,500 feet, he thinks to
himself: “Man, it’s dark … just a couple of
boat lights out here to look at—if that’s
what those are. Okay, 15 minutes to go.
Where is that full moon from last night?”
Minutes later, while actively engaged
in a “there I was” story for the captive
audience in back, he fails to notice that
the flight director has disengaged and that
an insidious rate of descent has begun to
develop. Taking a brief pause in his story,
something suddenly sounds different to
the pilot, and a sensation of pitching up
begins to take hold. A quick glance outside
reveals absolutely nothing but pitch black.
A rapid scan to the instruments reveals a
VSI showing 1,500 FPM in the “bad” direc-
tion along with a RadAlt blowing through
200 feet heading for 0. “It can’t be, I was
on...” Splash!
This type of mishap is hardly unheard
of, and not exclusive to the maritime realm.
However, the night maritime environ-
ment doesn’t seem to get the attention it
deserves. The conditions described above
are technically VFR flight, but is it really
VMC when you consider that there was no
visible horizon? If there were any moon or
stars you can bet they would be of no use as
they were likely obscured by the overcast
layer. The haze effect over water is only
going to be amplified by a hot, calm-wind
night and visibility could be far less than six
miles, making the anticipated island lights
at 20 miles not so visible. Additionally, the
lack of wind significantly adds to the prob-
lem by glassy smooth water eliciting zero
visual reference texture to perceive move-
ment. Make no mistake about it, overwater
flight with no visible horizon is an instru-
ment meteorological condition (IMC) and
with a little extra preflight analysis, you can
anticipate it.
Now, one might jump to what a prudent
pilot should do when faced with looking
into total blackness over featureless terrain,
but all too often pilots have a difficult time
abandoning the plan they have already set
forth to accomplish. Therefore a critical
component to preventing fatal mishaps
over lakes and oceans, which are caused by
spatial disorientation, is to ensure aviators
are imprinted early on with the appropri-
ate mindset regarding this environment.
Once armed with this correct mindset,
the decision-making process may perhaps
begin with a more conservative stance and
in turn may better serve to prevent flight
into realms where that pilot’s abilities are
likely to be exceeded. For this reason, I will
refer to the night maritime world as the
To those pilots who have baptized
themselves with flight into the Abyss with-
out the benefit of instrument skills, I am
sure you appreciate the analogy and per-
haps recall the eeriest of sensations from
your experience (unless you are the type
who really likes dark places).
Regardless of the reported cloud levels
and visibilities, factors such as ambient
illumination, potential marine layers, no
winds (for those glass-like surfaces and
increased moisture in the air on warm
nights) and the lack of any reliable light
sources (supertankers don’t count) must be
accounted for prior to flight.
All these factors directly contribute to
creating an environment that can only be
characterized as a place without depth, a
seemingly bottomless chasm. While not
every night flight over water is going to
present a black hole, if you point the air-
craft offshore and that is what you see, then
you need to make a decision as to whether
you can really press on as if you were in
VMC on a VFR plan. Even if you are head-
ing to a single source of light on the horizon
(like a small barrier island), realize that the
visual illusions are plentiful when flying
over water. If you weren’t contemplating
using instruments from start to finish on
this flight, stand by for lots of drama when
spatial disorientation creeps into cockpit.
Your inevitable attempt to rapidly establish
an instrument scan will likely lead to a little
more drama, and turning on the search-
light at lower altitudes to see the water can
actually induce vertigo. Take the recent
EC145 mishap off Captiva in Florida:

The pilot could not remember the exact
sequence of the final 500-foot descent;
however, at some point she remembered
the medical crew commenting they
“couldn’t see anything.” She responded,
that the flight to Captiva is usually very
dark over the water and there’s “never
anything to see. ” She remembered turn-
ing on the searchlight and shortly after,
impacting the water. —NTSB: ERA-
09LA464 Accident, Aug. 17, 2009, North
Captiva Island, Fla.
With so many helicopter jobs occur-
ring over the water, one would hope that
somewhere in a pilot’s training, instructors
would set aside some time for discussing
this realm. But my observations lead me
to find pilots more focused on things like
how to successfully ditch and what the
required equipment might be to meet FAR
requirements. Judging from discussions
I’ve had with instructors—both military
and civilian—they all acknowledge hav-
ing been in places where it is “really dark,”
searching desperately for some light source
before they realized they had better get
that instrument scan going and perhaps get
an IFR pick up, if one was even available.
Would you like to guess where most of
their “really dark” experiences took place?
Student VFR pilots are told from day
one to stay away from clouds and what to
do if they inadvertently encounter IMC. It
is treated like an emergency, because that’s
The Abyss
10_RW_030110_Abyss_p36_39.indd 37 2/18/10 12:57:41 PM
38 RotoR & Wing magazine | maRch 2010 WWW. R ot o R a n d Wi n g . c o m
exactly what it is for a VFR-only pilot. What
about situations where there is no discern-
able horizon, or, at night, a visual surface
light reference sufficient to safely control
the helicopter? That last part would make
it illegal to be VFR if you don’t have it (FAR
135.207), and unless your operation has
been reviewed by the FAA administrator,
flying IFR outside of controlled airspace is
prohibited below 1,200 feet.
A pilot takes off to fly VFR with a solid
1,500-foot overcast and six miles in haze.
Conditions will be VMC over the city all
night long, no argument there, which is
why the U.S. permits night VFR. So when
the pilot points offshore towards a barrier
island 20 miles away, the additional effects
of no moon and the resultant lower vis-
ibility from the additional moisture in the
air on that warm, no-wind night are going
to make that 20-mile trip somewhat sporty
unless there are some instrument skills on
standby. Why? Because it is every bit the
same as flying into clouds unexpectedly,
and for some, the experience will lead to an
all-too-tragic outcome.
When instructors are molding a stu-
dent pilot’s ability to exercise sound “aero-
nautical decision-making,” certain envi-
ronments are unfailingly emphasized as
dangerous places to venture, i.e. thunder-
storms. For helicopters, the opportunity to
go inadvertent IMC is much easier since
the ceiling and visibility requirements
are less restrictive due to a helo’s unique
maneuvering capabilities. If one is going to
make a profession out of flying helicopters,
just know that when it comes to inadver-
tent IMC, there are two types of pilots out
there: those that have done it and those
that will; especially if pilots are taught they
need only analyze clouds and visibility for
that “legal” rationale to commence aviating.
Then you can bet it is only a matter of time
until they find out the hard way that some
places need more analysis than others, like
the Abyss. For helicopter operations over
water, U.S. regulations simply state that the
helicopter must have an emergency flota-
tion system for commercial operations and
make no mention of IFR-related equip-
ment. The gap between the definition of
IMC and the actual conditions that require
instrument skills is significant when you
truly look at it, but can be mitigated by
sound judgment through analyzing your
environment and telling yourself: “if there
is no horizon, change the plan.” You could
even train your brain monthly by picking
one of those no moon nights, maybe with
lots of cloud cover, fly a coast line (ocean or
big lake) and see the horizon painted with
all those city lights (now you see it), then
look to the water (now you don’t). Think:
No Horizon = IMC, get on the gauges!
My personal philosophy after 18 years
of maritime aviation is to treat going “feet
wet” at night (and even on some days)
as being in IMC. No exceptions! In the
performance of my missions, if I need to
descend below 500 feet over the water, it
is through the use of an instrument scan to
get me to a target. Perhaps I will use a flight
director, but I will always have set limits,
placed error traps, and have a well-briefed
safety pilot to hold the line (sorry folks, I
am one of those that is a real fan of dual-
piloted instrument flight in helicopters).
Even when I am instructing in the
Abyss on NVGs with a full moon out, I can
be on the controls and easily distract copi-
lots of all experience levels long enough
to fly them uncomfortably close to the
water or to trip their RadAlt warning horn.
The trick is simply to know if I know their
mindset has lead them to fly strictly using
their Mark-1 eyeballs.
However, when it is so dark that there
is no light for NVGs to amplify, then there
will be no horizon coming through the
tubes, and without a horizon for the eyes
to interpret spatial orientation via mother
Earth, you will no doubt have to rely on
instruments in the very near future if you
decide to press on with your flight plan. If
one is not instrument qualified, or perhaps
only a “little rusty,” the Abyss is not the
place to fly as if VMC, however “legal” it
may appear to be on the ground prior to
pulling pitch.
Accident investigators say that unin-
tended flight into IMC is one of the leading
causal factors in fatal aircraft accidents.
They point to specific human factors as
contributors to the event. Like the fatal flaw
mentioned earlier, so many pilots demon-
strate the inability to abandon their current
plan of action and replace it with one that
has higher odds of survival. Many regions
of the world prohibit night VFR and simply
say you need an instrument ticket. Others
give it special emphasis and have some
minimum training requirements. For VFR
helicopter operations in the U.S., a pilot
must have “visual surface reference, or at
night, visual light reference, sufficient to
safely control the helicopter.” For those
uninitiated to helicopter operations over
water, know this: the opportunities for the
last part of that statement to manifest itself
abound, and you will be in IMC.
If you are contemplating bringing
NVGs into your operation, take caution in
attempting flights to places where you may
have not gone before simply because you
can now see more on the tubes. Even if you
are not going to be operating over water,
be aware that the Abyss has relatives, and
going “green” is not going to always counter
their similar hazards. If I had to look into
my crystal ball, I would say that the incor-
poration of NVGs is not going to curtail
many inadvertent IMC-related accidents
in a certain industry that seems so des-
perate to get them. NVGs will certainly
help in some cases, but the combination
of existing regulations, inexperienced yet
No moon and lower visibility from the
moisture in the air on that warm,
no-wind night are going to make that
20-mile trip offshore somewhat sporty.
Category | Info
10_RW_030110_Abyss_p36_39.indd 38 2/18/10 12:57:50 PM
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legally qualified pilots operating alone, and
the self-imposed pressures driven by the
pursuit of profits will continue to open an
ample number of avenues to circumvent
sound judgment. There is little doubt that
NVGs enhance safety in our profession,
but they also come with a new set of
challenges and will best be discussed in a
separate article.
Eventually, pilots may undertake instru-
ment flight training and on day one the
mystery of flying in a degraded visual envi-
ronment unveils itself as the pilot begins
to learn the complexities of this discipline.
One becomes exposed to the procedures
and techniques for safely operating aircraft
with no outside references and overcom-
ing the sensations of flight that create illu-
sions. Illusions with complicated names
like “somatogyral” or “somatogravic” with
pilot-given names like “the leans” or “false
climbs” will quickly overwhelm a visual-
only reference pilot. Hopefully, as the
pilot develops the ability to see the mental
picture that flight instruments provide, he
or she will also develop an appreciation
for how fast these new skills may become
degraded from disuse. But with knowledge
comes power, and now that they are armed
with these new abilities and certifications,
their confidence is strengthened. Now
inadvertent IMC doesn’t look so evil, and
if it is encountered on a VFR flight, then all
one must do then is start working in the ol’
instrument scan and make a radio call to
ATC for some vectors, right?
What if it has been five months since
you have flown at night or even practiced
instruments? Couple that with flying off-
shore, heading GPS direct on the modes,
well outside of radar coverage, and not
even talking to ATC. Sprinkle on some IFR
equipment being degraded or inopera-
tive (which was acceptable in your mind
at takeoff because no significant weather
was forecasted and you are, after all, flying
VFR). In the U.S., such an event is legal,
sort of.
The mindset you begin a flight with is
critical. The intent is to adequately estab-
lish this environment as one to venture
into with great caution, no matter what
level of experience or qualifications you
may have. For the inexperienced, don’t just
point to rules to justify your presence if you
find yourself in degraded visual environ-
ments. Don’t treat your instrument skills as
a backup plan and recognize the potential
early by digging a little deeper during your
flight planning so as to anticipate IMC. If
you don’t, just remember, the Abyss and its
relatives patiently await you.
The views expressed herein are those
of the author and are not to be construed
as official or reflecting the views of the
commandant or the U.S. Coast Guard.
LCDR Dan Deutermann is a Flight
Safety Officer who currently flies the
MH-65C Dolphin.
The Abyss
The Abyss
10_RW_030110_Abyss_p36_39.indd 39 2/18/10 12:58:09 PM
t requires no great leap of faith to
accept that the business of flying
offshore oil & gas operations can
be safer in some parts of the world
than in others. Developing new energy
resources is an ever-more challenging
task and, to get the stuff out of the ground,
partnerships often have to be struck with
governments, national oil companies and
helicopter operators who might not be as
familiar with “western” standards as oth-
ers. But who drives improvements in the
riskier areas of production while, at the
same time, monitoring standards in the
more developed areas? These national oil
companies? The relevant regulators? The
operators? Their “big oil” customers?
The answer, to varying extents, is “all
of the above,” but their efforts are coordi-
nated by a group of 18 men and women
representing the International Associa-
tion of Oil & Gas Producers (OGP). The
main contributors to the work of the
OGP Aviation Subcommittee are the oil
majors—Shell, Exxon, Chevron and so on.
And although it can only issue guidelines
rather than impose standards, the ASC
now wields significant clout in the offshore
With the longest-established aviation
standards division in the world, Shell takes
a leading part in much of its work (see side-
bar, page 42). In fact, most of its standards
have been adopted chapter-and-verse by
the subcommittee. While many of the
smaller national oil companies (NOC)
are OGP members, they are usually not
involved in this particular subcommittee’s
work. The group reports to the OGP’s
Management committee through the
Safety Committee.
The principal objective of the ASC is
that oil workers flying in offshore helicop-
ters should be at no greater risk of dying
in an accident than if they were flying
on vacation. With cooperation from all
stakeholders, it is driving for a rate better
than one fatal accident per million flying
hours. The airline rate hovers around that
level—and that’s globally, not just the major
carriers (see table on page 41).
In the past, the committee argued,
the hel i copter i ndustr y had been
under-f unded and compl acent i n
By Andrew Healey
The International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (OGP) Aviation
subcommittee is driving for a rate better than one fatal accident per
million flying hours. Learn how they are trying to achieve that goal.
11_RW_030110_Oil_offshore_p40_43.indd 40 2/18/10 2:57:06 PM
Extra Mile
improving safety, and regulatory improve-
ments had been insufficient and incon-
sistent. Its analysts calculated the baseline
accident rate for offshore helicopter opera-
tions was 20 per million flight hours and
the baseline fatal accident rate was seven
per million flight hours, with both rising.
Those rates cost the oil and gas industry an
unacceptable number of lives—and mil-
lions of dollars—each year.
Several areas were identified for
improvements in airframe design, training,
management and equipment (see table).
Applying all of them, Shell estimated,
would cut the accident rate to 3.2 per mil-
lion flight hours and the fatal accident rate
to 1.1 per million flight hours. That would
save the lives of more than 200 offshore oil
and gas workers over 10 years.
OGP members adopted the Shell stan-
dards. In turn, they committed to paying
the higher contract rates dictated by these
higher design, performance, and equip-
ment requirements.
Lower Accident Rates
The end justifies the means. Mark Stevens,
Shell Aviation air safety and global projects
director, says: “We have proven statistically
that OGP members have a better accident
rate than the oil & gas industry as a whole,
and active members of the ASC maintain
a still-lower one. They are more aware of
the risks inherent in aviation and how to
mitigate against them—even though the
levels of implementation across the OGP
are extremely variable.” Stevens has just
finished running a small strategy review
group within the ASC, which has con-
cluded that it was relevant and supported
by a reasonable suite of advice
and guidance tools. “The
issue, as ever, is simply
one of implementation,
particularly among the
national oil companies. We
are embarking on a process
of education, which is
intended to open the
eyes of their senior
management to the
fact that if they do
have an aviation opera-
tion, there is a risk.
“The danger is that a number of people
have been extremely lucky—so far they
haven’t had an accident. It’s only when you
open the senior management’s eyes to their
liability, the wider implications of having an
accident—including loss of production and
reputation—that you start being listened
to. In certain parts of the world the national
authorities, including the governments,
are not as attuned to risk as we now are.
National regulation is extremely limited.”
The OGP compensates for that by
ensuring that its guidelines exceed most, if
not all, national regulatory requirements. It
spends a lot of time emphasizing the need
to go the extra mile in managing and miti-
gating risk. “At a national oil company you
don’t have that driver. Most international
companies will coordinate with their part-
ners as a matter of routine.”
By virtue of its organization, says Ste-
vens, Shell probably does more than most,
but most oil companies demand something
now. “If you look at the Gulf of Mexico now
for instance, you will see a totally differ-
ent picture than you would have even five
years ago. In large part, Super Pumas have
replaced Jet Rangers. In the field of flight
deck monitoring, for instance, at one point
Bristow was pre-eminent but PHI is now in
a very strong position.
“We’ve been banging on for years about
our contract requirements and they’ve
got the message that it’s not just about
pleasing Shell or Exxon or whatever—
they realize the benefits to themselves. It’s
getting over that hump that’s the difficult
bit. Once they’re over it, they’re up and
running.” As a result of this drive, argu-
ably, AgustaWestland has carved a niche
with its new-generation AW139—Bristow
ordered three of them at Helitech in Octo-
ber (two were delivered in December) and
anticipates requiring scores more over the
next year or so. Eurocopter’s EC155 is also
well-regarded. Legacy types such as the
Sikorsky S-76 and Bell 412 are now less
popular offshore.
The OGP format can be particularly
useful when it seeks improvements in a
region where several of its members are
involved. For example, if one oil company
expects its people to fly only in HUMS-
fitted helicopters, this may be difficult to
achieve if it only contracts a few aircraft in
a specific region. If its total fleet is 10 times
that, there is little incentive for the operator
to comply. If however, the oil companies
band together to demand HUMS-fitted
helicopters, then the initiative may cover
50–60 of those helicopters and be much
easier to manage.
Taking Regulators to Task
Such improvements can be driven by the
OGP whenever regulation is perceived
as not sufficiently proactive. Stevens can
identify instances during its own incident
and accident investigations, where he
believes regulators should have regulated,
but didn’t. “One investigation we have
conducted determined that helicopter
simulators are not fully representative of
the aircraft in certain emergency situa-
tions. Clearly, therefore, there is a danger
of picking up the wrong techniques during
simulator training.
“We are working to get the regulators
to be more prescriptive in this area and to
ensure that the flight test data and model-
ing used by the simulator manufacturers
accurately represents the real aircraft.”
Fatal Accidents per Million
Flight Hours (latest OGP
Commercial Airline: 0.9
Commuter Airline: 3.0
Offshore Helicopter: 5.7
Oil Industry (All Activity): 7.7
Seismic Operations: 21.9
11_RW_030110_Oil_offshore_p40_43.indd 41 2/18/10 2:57:18 PM
42 RotoR & Wing magazine | maRch 2010 WWW. R ot o R a n d Wi n g . c o m
CommerCial | offshoRe
While some are better than others,
the offshore sector is almost at the point,
believes Stevens, where the OGP acts as
a de facto regulator. “The OEMs respond
by and large to demands from their energy
company customers. This represents a
huge turnaround from the situation in its
early days, when the operators and OEMs
would develop the technology, the regula-
tors would then set the standards and the
oil companies would go with the operator
that offered the best package. Safety was
taken as a given.”
The helicopter manufacturers, on the
other hand, make an effort to follow OGP
guidelines—they contribute observers to
the ASC, along with organizations like the
European Helicopter Operators Commit-
tee. They are also now in a position to offer
that same service when entering areas
controlled by NOCs, if they partner with
a company like Shell. Then they can per-
suade their new partners of the advantages
of using the latest helicopters.
This communications strategy also
drills down to airframe design. As the just-
flown EC175 took shape, Shell was on the
OEM’s customer advisory team. After the
first meeting they noted several areas for
improvement and, by the time they went
back for second meeting, Eurocopter had
changed the design.
Stevens says Shell will soon tender to
upgrade to new-generation helicopters in
Nigeria. “We want to get rid of AS332s and
replace them with EC225s, [and] S76s with
AW139s. And we’ll be doing this in coop-
eration with the NOC of Nigeria.
“With the OEM’s help, we can illustrate
the advantages. It’s not just a question of
safety. If you have your demand manage-
ment—I mean your control of passenger
movement—really sharp, with really good
load factors and so on, and you replace old
types with new ones, you can sometimes
do the same job with one less airframe. So
your initial start-up costs and operating
costs are both lower.”
There are less tangible benefits as
well. If Exxon moves into a new operating
area with AW139s and its competitor on
the other side of the airfield has tired old
helicopters, passengers and crews in both
types will be the first to comment. “People
power can play a big part.”
right attitude/right approach/right alongside
Goodrich’s Vehicle Health Management System (VHMS) is a highly effective
mission enabler that monitors helicopter systems and is combat proven to
provide significant increases in mission readiness, reduced troubleshooting,
fleet wide visibility of maintenance status and cost savings due to early
identification of maintenance requirements.
VHMS is so successful that the U.S. Army’s 159th Combat Aviation Brigade
achieved a 27% increase in missions accomplished on their BLACK HAWKS
while sustaining an operational readiness rate of 89%.
For every aspect of your helicopter operations, you can depend on Goodrich.
Mission critical systems for defense.
For more information about Goodrich Vehicle Health Management Systems,
26416_Goodrich_HELI_Avionics_Sep09_273x199:Job number required 05/08/2009 13:37 Page 1
Standards Guardians
British World War II flying ace Douglas Bader set up Shell Aircraft after leaving the
Royal Air Force. The business now comprises three small divisions, including a
corporate jet fleet based in Rotterdam, Houston and Calgary. An aviation consul-
tancy group develops standards against which all Shell operations are run. It also
owns and operates three S-92s based in Brunei, and owns (Bristow operates) six
EC155 in Nigeria. All other air assets are through contracts. The division acts to set
and maintain Shell standards, sending auditors to vet suppliers all over the world.
The third division is known as Air Safety Global Projects. It was set up about
six years ago by the division’s then-director, Eric Clark, who decided that they
needed the time to think more strategically; to be more proactive in the safety
arena. The four-man staff now works with “everybody,” including operators, regu-
lators and manufacturers, to address
this ambition.
With the goal of one accident per
million flying hours in mind, Shell now
insists its employees fly in helicopters
that meet the latest standards in
seven categories (see table at right).
They range from the latest design
and performance standards, through
type-specific simulator training to
integration of cockpit aids like terrain
and traffic warning systems.
21st Century mils?
Shell paid for the HUMS integration on the Russian Mil 8 fleet (example shown
above) at Sakhalin Island. Stevens says that, “we don’t operate anywhere else
with Mils. It’s not that they’re unsafe—it’s just that they could be safer. Now
the ones at Sakhalin have HUMS, push-out escape windows, four-point seat
harnesses—they are a different beast altogether.
“We are looking now at upgrading these aircraft but, as with any overseas
operation, there are local factors to take into account. In Sakhalin in particular,
we have the issue of supporting a national helicopter manufacturer, so there’s
national pride at stake. Mil has consulted with us and we will probably end up fly-
ing in the Mil-171. Indeed, now we are in discussions to make sure that, from our
perspective, this helicopter is as good as it can be.”
“Shell expects…”
• Latest build standard,
• Latest simulator standard
(line oriented flight training),
• Company run to latest QA/SMS
• HUMS, vibration monitoring,
• Flight data monitoring,
• Appropriate flight profiles (PC2E),
• Terrain/traffic avoidance equipment
11_RW_030110_Oil_offshore_p40_43.indd 42 2/18/10 2:57:40 PM
43 March 2010 | rotor & Wing Magazine WWW. r ot o r a n d Wi n g . c o M
Extra Mile
right attitude/right approach/right alongside
Goodrich’s Vehicle Health Management System (VHMS) is a highly effective
mission enabler that monitors helicopter systems and is combat proven to
provide significant increases in mission readiness, reduced troubleshooting,
fleet wide visibility of maintenance status and cost savings due to early
identification of maintenance requirements.
VHMS is so successful that the U.S. Army’s 159th Combat Aviation Brigade
achieved a 27% increase in missions accomplished on their BLACK HAWKS
while sustaining an operational readiness rate of 89%.
For every aspect of your helicopter operations, you can depend on Goodrich.
Mission critical systems for defense.
For more information about Goodrich Vehicle Health Management Systems,
26416_Goodrich_HELI_Avionics_Sep09_273x199:Job number required 05/08/2009 13:37 Page 1
11_RW_030110_Oil_offshore_p40_43.indd 43 2/18/10 2:58:02 PM
One of the world’s first helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS)
pilots shares his combat rescue experiences in the Korean War.
orean War helicopter pilot,
World War II fighter pilot,
author, artist, great-grand-
father. Many people would
relish in accomplishing just one of these
goals. For Richard C. Kirkland, that’s just
where his story begins. Among his hon-
ors are the Distinguished Flying Cross,
six Air Medals and the U.S. Air Force
Commendation Medal. Rotor & Wing
visited Kirkland recently at his home in
Vienna, Va., where his basement features
an “aviation gallery,” filled with helicopter
and aircraft models and WWII, Korea
and Vietnam War memorabilia from his
50-plus years in the aviation industry.
His new book, “MASH Angles”—pub-
lished by Burford Books in late 2009—pro-
vides a detailed account of life in a helicop-
ter emergency medical services (HEMS)
unit in the Korean War. Kirkland’s unit—
the 8055 MASH with the 3rd Air Rescue
Group—helped pave the way for modern
military HEMS operators. He flew the
Sikorsky R-5 (H-5 after 1948, S-51 in com-
mercial designation) and H-19 Chicka-
saw during the Korean War, picking up
downed pilots and injured soldiers from
the battlefield and transporting them to
Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH)
units. The H-13, a military variant of the
Bell 47, was also used in Korea. Many of the
medevac ops would take place in Korean-
controlled territory, and the helicopter
played a new and integral role in the war.
Helicopters from the 3rd Air Rescue
Group “were given credit for picking up
846 pilots and aircrew from behind enemy
lines,” Kirkland explains, adding that the
group rescued 8,373 soldiers from the front
lines and transported them to the mobile
hospitals. “Quite a feat for a handful of
taxi drivers,” he says. Kirkland served with
Capt. Sam Gilfand, who was the basis for
the fictional character “Hawkeye” in the
popular 1970s television series, M*A*S*H,
that was based off a Richard Hooker novel.
“They were real people,” Kirkland says.
“The reason we called him Hawkeye is he
could take a wounded [patient] and see
stuff no one else could see. He could save a
patient when no one else could,” Kirkland
says, pointing to a picture of Hawkeye,
“Trapper” (Capt. Michael Johnson in real
life) and himself (see photo page 45). While
noting that Hooker exaggerated “quite
a bit,” in writing the fictional characters,
By Andrew D. Parker, Managing Editor
Richard Kirkland displays a model of his favorite
helicopter, the Hughes 500, while standing in his
“aviation gallery” of memorabilia and artwork in
the basement of his home in Vienna, Va.


12_RW_030110_Kirkland_p44_47.indd 44 2/18/10 12:43:30 PM
MASH Angels
Kirkland says Gilfand “was a great guy, a
great surgeon … and a great prankster, too.”
While the book and TV series provided
the story from the doctors on the ground,
“it didn’t really get into the helicopter part.
That was a really important part,” he adds.
An author of four published books—
”MASH Angels,” “War Pilot,” “Tales of
a War Pilot” and “Tales of a Helicopter
Pilot”—Kirkland spends most of his time
these days writing and painting, chroni-
cling his experiences. Each one of the other
books contains anywhere from 15–20
short stories, except “MASH Angels,”
which is one cohesive story from cover-
He’d been aiming to write “MASH
Angels” for some time “because it was
a story that just needed to be told. It’s
another part of that great story that hasn’t
been told. It lays the groundwork for the
current air medical helicopter program
that’s all around the world now, and it
began in Korea.”
Flying Roots
“My dad used to say, if you’re lucky you’ve
got the world by the tail, but if you’re not,
you’re in deep trouble. And I’m lucky.
Because I’ve gone through an awful lot,”
Kirkland says, including 103 combat mis-
sions in WWII and 69 in Korea. He initially
got into flying after joining the Army when
WWII came to America.
“The country was basically isolation-
ist when the war broke out,” he recalls.
“Nobody wanted it, but when they bombed
Pearl Harbor, it changed overnight. Every-
body just signed up. In some places, you
had to stand in line for two days just to sign
up.” He decided to apply as a pilot. “They
would divide us up into groups—bomber
pilot, fighter pilot, reconnaissance pilot,
transport pilot. I wanted to be a fighter pilot
and was fortunate enough to get it through
the Army Air Corps cadet program.” After
WWII, Kirkland flew “many different
kinds” of aircraft up until the Korean War,
when he joined the MASH unit.
Inside the MASH
The MASH helicopters were given mis-
sions by Army headquarters to fly to one
of a number of pre-determined base camp
“They would call us on a landline—we
had a phone right in our tent—and say
there’s a wounded soldier at spot number
23 [or K-23]. We would go and pick him
From left to right, Kirkland, Capt. Michael Johnson (Trapper) and Capt. Sam
Gilfand (Hawkeye) in front of the officer’s quarter’s tents at 8055 MASH
during the Korean War in spring 1953.






Capt. Kirkland takes off in a Sikorsky H-5 from the 8055 MASH. The
aluminum pods were used to transport patients from the battlefield to the
mobile medical units.
Sikorsky R-5/H-5/S-51
Sikorsky H-19 Chickasaw
Kaman H-43
Piasecki H-21
Hughes 300
Hughes 500/500N
Bell HU-1 Huey (changed to UH-1
Iroquois in 1962)
Fixed-Wing Aircraft
Boeing PT-18 trainer
Vultee BT-13 Valiant trainer
Beechcraft AT-6 advanced trainer
Saab T-17 trainer
Lockheed P-38 Lightning
Piper L-4 Grasshopper
Republic P-47 Thunderbolt
Bell P-39 Airacobra
Bell P-63 Kingcobra
Fairchild C-82 Packet
Douglas C-47 Skytrain
Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress
Stinson L-5 Sentinel
Stinson L-13
Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star
C-45 Expeditor/Beechcraft Model 18
de Havilland L-20 Beaver
North American B-25 Mitchell bomber
Martin B-26 Marauder
List of rotary and fixed-wing aircraft that Richard C. Kirkland has
flown, in order of date, according to his recollection:
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46 RotoR & Wing magazine | maRch 2010 WWW. R ot o R a n d Wi n g . c o m
up and bring him back to the MASH, and
then they’d call again when the next one
was coming. Sometimes, when they had a
big battle, we’d just be going back and forth
as fast as we could, but otherwise they’d
just call us when they had one.”
Many times, wounded soldiers who
could still walk were taken out on the
ground via ambulance, but “if the area
was under fire or the patient was seriously
wounded and his life was in jeopardy, they
called on the helicopter,” he says.
“If he just had an arm or leg wound or
something where he could get on an ambu-
lance, they would just bring him down,
but if the roads were cut or they were
under fire … we would have to do it all,”
Kirkland adds. A doctor would come along
on each helicopter medevac flight, and
maintenance crews would be based at the
MASH home location and each spot, or
station, designated by “K” (for Korea) and
a number, such as K-8 or K-14. The stations
would move around every two to three
weeks, depending on the battle lines. The
helicopter units would rotate around the
various stations—two on the front lines,
two behind the lines, and another couple at
the major combat bases.
The Army and Air Force supplied the
pilots and medics for the different MASH
units. Kirkland says that the Army units
flew the H-13 (military version of the Bell
47), which has a pod and didn’t have room
for a doctor. “We had a medic, using the
Sikorsky H-5, which is a little larger and has
a little more horsepower. The medic came
in handy because the wounded might be in
pretty bad shape and need attention while
we were getting him back to the hospital,
particularly when we’d go behind the line.”
Vietnam Vs. Korea
Kirkland explains that the way helicopters
were used in the Korean War differed from
Vietnam (he didn’t serve in Vietnam, but
did train pilots for that conflict).
“We did lose some pilots and some heli-
copters, but nothing compared to Vietnam.
In Korea, we primarily flew up the bottom
of the canyons, or we would fly offshore,”
he says, adding that if a fighter pilot got into
trouble, he could bail out in the Yellow Sea
and be picked up by a helicopter-mounted
rescue hoist.
Stepping back for a moment, Kirkland
explains that before Korea, when helicop-
ters came out in the 1940s, “everybody
thought they were kind of novelties. They
were in great demand during the holidays
to come and show people how they could
fly, do circles, bring in Santa, etc. But then
they would go home and everybody would
get back to business.”
The Korean War “changed all that,” he
continues. “All of a sudden, helicopters
were doing all kinds of neat stuff.” The
Army picked up on this, having lost a sig-
nificant amount of air power when the Air
Force split off from the Army Air Corps in
1947. “They were looking for something
to [establish another] air unit, and latched
on to helicopters, saying they are ground-
related. Pretty soon they had thousands of
In Vietnam, Kirkland says, “they made
a big mistake, they thought the helicopter
could fly like a fighter or bomber,” he says.
This resulted in thousands of pilots and
around 4,000 helicopters being shot down,
a stark contrast to Korea. “You could count
on two hands the number of pilots killed in
the Korean War,” he notes.
Kirkland’s love for helicopters didn’t stop
after he left Korea, flying “a little bit of
everything.” In 1963, he took a job work-
ing for Hughes Aircraft Company, starting
out in sales. He went through a number of
promotions—sales, then a demonstration
pilot, a sales pilot and national salesman—
before McDonnell Douglas took over the
company in 1984.
Kirkland stayed on, working as a divi-
sion manger. A few years later “Boeing took
over, and I [continued] as a division man-
ger, and then I retired,” he says. But that
would not be the end of his professional
career, as Kirkland became vice president
of marketing for Heli-Source before retir-
ing again in 1996. His ratings include com-
mand pilot, multi-engine, single-engine
fighter, transport, seaplane and helicopter.
“I have all the flying ratings,” he says. He
gained the helicopter rating in 1949, fol-
lowing his first flight in 1947.
Hughes 500
Kirkland says that if he was forced to pick
which type of aircraft “you love the best of
all, I would choose the Hughes 500. I love
my helicopter flying experience, particu-
larly in that bird. You could go in and out of
almost anywhere. It was the best.”
From around 1975 until 1985, while he
was a demonstration salesman at Hughes
Kirkland kept a demonstration Hughes 500 in his back yard for about a decade from the mid-1970s to
the mid-1980s. He describes the Hughes 500 as his favorite helicopter.
Military | PRofile
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47 March 2010 | rotor & Wing Magazine WWW. r ot o r a n d Wi n g . c o M
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MASH Angels
Aircraft, Kirk-
land kept a Hughes 500
in his back yard in Vienna. In addition to
company business, he would occasionally
fly his wife, Maria, various places instead
of driving, many times landing in a parking
lot or field near a park, restaurant, or hotel.
Of course, Kirkland wouldn’t be allowed
to fly a helicopter from his back yard these
days, but back then he “had an advan-
tage. [Former Washington Redskins
Quarterback] Joe Theismann was my
neighbor. So I think they figured if it was
all right with Joe, it must be OK.”
Family Man
After retiring his wings in 1992, Kirkland
has stayed out of the cockpit. “When I
walked away after 50 years of flying, I’d had
a great career and enjoyed it. Well, there
were some parts I didn’t enjoy so much,
but when I walked away, I said, ‘That’s it,
I’m through,’ and I haven’t flown since,” he
explains, adding that he still won’t take to
the air—except on commercial airlines as
a passenger.
“It’s just that I did that, and loved it. But
everything has an end to it and I shifted
to writing books and painting pictures.”
He still speaks at local organization meet-
ings around his community, such as the
McLean Historical Society, the adult
program at George Mason University, the
Aeronautical Society of Vienna, and other
local Rotary and Kiwanis-type events.
“They love to have me come because
they’re not too many people left, I’m one
of the fortunate ones,” he says, pausing for
a second. “There’s only two people in my
squadron that are still alive, and I’m 86
years old.” People who are history buffs
really seem to appreciate the stories, he
adds. “It’s fun, I enjoy it.”
Above all, Kirkland is a family man—by
far the most important role he’s played.
With nine kids, 16 grandchildren and two
great-grandchildren, it’s hard to imagine
where he finds the time to write memoirs
and paint memories. Spending even a little
time talking to Kirkland reveals his great
appreciation for his wife of 35 years. The
dedication on the third page of “MASH
Angels” helps to sum up his feelings, thank-
ing Maria “for her continued encourage-
ment and inspiration.”
12_RW_030110_Kirkland_p44_47.indd 47 2/18/10 12:50:10 PM
At the European Aviation Safety
Agency’s (EASA) third Rotorcraft
Symposium in Cologne, Germany
in December 2009, the European
helicopter industry continued an
open dialogue to improve safety.
nitiatives from various parts of
the world were discussed at the
European Aviation Safety Agency
(EASA)’s third rotorcraft sympo-
sium in Cologne, Germany in December.
Offshore operations are still a major focus,
but some speakers warned that real prob-
lems may be somewhat below the radar—
at small operators and/or in remote areas.
Vittorio Morassi, chairman of newEHA,
gave an updated picture of the European
industry. NewEHA (the New European
Helicopter Association) is the association
that represents European helicopter opera-
tors, except emergency medical services
(EMS) operators, which are still regrouped
in the European HEMS and air ambulance
committee (EHAC). Negotiations to inte-
grate EHAC into NewEHA failed at the
last minute, in September 2009. NewEHA
is based in Cologne.
In Europe, 2,000 companies operate
a total of 6,960 helicopters. Two-thirds of
them have only one aircraft in their fleet.
The European fleet is used for commercial
missions (28 percent), public service (21
percent), private flights (16 percent), EMS
(10 percent), offshore oil and gas (4 per-
cent) and other operations (21 percent).
About half of the fleet is made of single-
engine helicopters.
“Aerial work, private, air taxi and cor-
porate operations have suffered a major
drop in demand since the economic slump
began,” Morassi stated. EMS, firefighting
and civil protection operations have been
stagnating. Businesses involved in such
operations have been doing fine “only
where they benefit from stable relation-
ships and long-term contracts.” Offshore
flights for oil and gas companies remain
steady. “Overall, this situation has caused a
lot of job cuts,” Morassi said.
A number of rules impacting heli-
copters are in the making in the Euro-
By Thierry Dubois
13_RW_030110_EASA_p48_51.indd 48 2/18/10 1:34:44 PM
European Safety
pean Union now. “Helicopters are being
included in the EU emission trading
scheme (ETS) only for political reasons,
to please the environmentalists,” Morassi
Regarding CO trading, Morassi said
helicopters below 5,700 kilos (12,555
pounds) of MOTW are excluded from
the European Union ETS. Still to be con-
firmed is that operators emitting less than
10,000 metric tons of CO per year will be
allowed to use a simplified reporting pro-
cedure. The 10,000-ton threshold equates
to 7,100 pounds of fuel used.
The OPS regulation, which EASA
is working on for aircraft operations, is
at the NPA (notice of proposed amend-
ment) stage. NewEHA has requested that
rotorcraft specificity should be taken into
account. In response, EASA has appointed
two “focal points” for general aviation and
helicopters. There also has been a long-
standing disagreement on single-engine
operations over hostile environments. The
industry finds current rules too restrictive.
EASA is prepared to reconsider the matter,
according to Morassi.
Some 14,000 comments have been
received, EASA air operations officer Willy
Sigl said. First draft rules should appear
in April of this year. Then, in October, the
agency will publish a comment response
document. The new regulation is to be
adopted in 2012.
NewEHA is also requesting to be
involved in the development of specific
flight and duty time limitations for gen-
eral aviation and helicopter operations.
“Airline rules do not suit our needs. Please
keep rules affordable and proportionate,”
Morassi urged EASA. He praised EASA
and the European Helicopter Safety Team
(EHEST) for working out “recommenda-
tions that are suitable.”
The EHEST, a component of the Inter-
national Helicopter Safety Team (IHST)
that aims at cutting the helicopter accident
rate by 80 percent by 2016, is issuing “con-
solidated recommendations” from a wide-
ranging accident data analysis. It is thus
encouraging the use of safety management
systems (SMS), “based on real safety cul-
ture including risk management and codes
of practice.” Moreover, operators should be
encouraged to establish and apply standard
operating procedures (SOPs), EHEST rep-
resentatives said.
Focus on Training
Another recommendation is to focus
on training to improve pilot decision-
making before and after inadvertent entry
into instrument meteorological conditions
(IMC). The importance of mission prepa-
ration and the benefits of installing flight
data recorders (FDR) and conducting
flight data monitoring (FDM, also known
as flight operations quality assurance) were
Commercial air transport, including
EMS, accounted for 19 percent of the
accidents EHEST has analyzed. General
aviation accounted for 45 percent, while
aerial work’s contribution was 32 percent.
State flights accounted for four percent.
(See chart page 50.)
Robert Carter, principal inspector of
air accidents at the UK’s Air Accidents
Investigation Branch (AAIB), confirmed
that FDRs have been extremely helpful in
recent investigations. However, such data
“cannot do everything and sometimes
make the investigation even more com-
plex,” he said. One probe used data from
the helicopter health and usage monitor-
ing system (HUMS). It proved useful but
difficult to understand. “Investigations are
as complex as ever,” Carter insisted.
More Offshore Ops
Another helicopter that has become
common in offshore operations is the
AgustaWestland AW139 medium twin.
Francesco Paolucci, a flight test engineer
with the Italian Civil Aviation Authority
(ENAC) and Nicola Pecile, an Italian Air
Force experimental test pilot, explained
how the 2006 certification for IFR/night
VFR single pilot operations was obtained.
The AW139 had been certified for IFR/
night VFR dual-pilot and day VFR single
pilot operations in 2003. In the meantime,
a new, four-display cockpit configuration
had become available, making it eligible for
extended single-pilot operations.
Paolucci, Pecile and their team focused
on pilot workload. The method added the
time spent in primary tasks (flight con-
trols) and auxiliary tasks (communication,
navigation, etc.) over the total duration of
a flight phase, such as approach. The pass/
fail criterion was approximately 30 percent
spare time available for normal operation.
Therefore, some emergency procedures
were revised so the workload never reached
100 percent. “They are now more easily
handled by a single pilot,” Paolucci said.
Bernardino Paggi, an AgustaWestland
specialist in new flight test methodologies,
presented how the AW139 was tested
for category A offshore takeoff and land-
ing procedures. EASA approved such
operations in July 2009. “We wanted no
procedural change between all-engine-
operative and one-engine-inoperative,”
Paggi emphasized. Quite simply, in case of
an engine failure, the pilot should not do
anything unusual. Otherwise this could
have disturbing aerodynamic effects, Paggi
said. AgustaWestland chose to allow some
depletion in the rotor’s rotation speed.
Tests showed that tail clearance to the
deck’s edge was about 100 meters (330
feet) in the worst-case scenario. This is
when the engine fails at 17 feet, followed
by the decision to continue takeoff. The
takeoff decision point is at 20 feet. The
difference between the 17- and 20-foot
heights represent the pilot’s reaction time.
Should the engine fail at 15 feet, the takeoff
should be rejected.
“We chose a low takeoff decision point
to ensure the best helideck sight in case of
a rejected takeoff,” Paggi said. The 30-foot
rotation point is 10 feet higher than the
takeoff decision point to allow longer pilot
reaction time for continued takeoff. It
allows a greater deck edge clearance, too.
At the 15,000-pound MTOW, the
maximum drop-down was 40 feet. This
provides enough height above the sea, tak-
ing into account the deck’s height.
In case of a balked landing, which
should take place somewhat laterally away
from the deck, the helicopter is never lower
than the helideck level, Paggi said.
One more valuable insight into off-
shore safety was given by Bristow head of
centralized engineering Mark Plunkett,
who detailed how a second-generation
traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS
II) was fitted onto a helicopter—an AS332
Super Puma. Such an installation was until
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recently deemed impossible. Regulation
states that helicopters cannot comply with
TCAS II avoidance procedures, due to a
lack of performance.
Yet, there is a need. First-genera-
tion TCAS can’t be relied on for evasive
maneuvers. It is just considered an aid to
visually spotting traffic. Yet, in the North
Sea, “visibility is not great,” as Plunkett
put it. The need is widespread. In Nigeria,
there were 32 airproxes in a few years in
the early 2000s.
Bristow and Rockwell Collins engi-
neers proved the operator’s helicopters
can perform as required. They found a
place to install the antenna, behind the
main rotor. In flight tests, they demon-
strated the absence of any blanking. They
were awarded the first EASA supple-
mental type certificate (STC) ever for a
TCAS II on a helicopter. The first TCAS
II-equipped Super Puma started operat-
ing in the spring of 2008.
Bristow is now moving to other types.
A Sikorsky S-92 with the antenna located
above the windshield is close to flight
testing. There are also plans for another
Super Puma variant and the Sikorsky S-76.
What about OEMs offering TCAS II on
new helicopters? “There was skepticism
but manufacturers’ interest is growing,”
Plunkett said.
Offshore safety was decidedly a major
focus at the symposium, as FAA rotorcraft
directorate manager Mark Shilling gave
an update on the experimental period
that began in December for the auto-
matic dependent surveillance-broadcast
(ADS-B) system in the Gulf of Mexico. It
is hoped to improve traffic and weather
information for helicopters flying to and
from offshore rigs. Due to the distance
from the shore, there is very limited radio
coverage and no radar coverage. Position
and weather reporting have been continu-
ing issues. Moreover, instrument condi-
tions exist frequently.
Yet, the Gulf of Mexico is the place for
some 3,000 operations per day for the U.S.
only, Shilling said. To report helicopter
progress on its route, the existing process is
“convoluted,” Shilling said, as it involves sat-
ellite phones. To ensure aircraft separation,
the airspace is divided into grid squares of
10 nm by 10 nm. The resulting air traffic
control (ATC) capacity is very small—10
aircraft at a time.
The FAA and local operators place great
hopes in ADS-B. The relatively simple sys-
tem has been used by some fixed-wing
aircraft operators. It periodically transmits
information without any pilot or operator
input. The position and the velocity vector
are derived from the GPS. The transmitted
information is available to anyone with the
appropriate receiving equipment.
The painstaking grid scheme thus
becomes useless. The main challenge is
not to equip helicopters but offshore plat-
forms. Relays are needed on the surface but
space is scarce on the rigs. Final rules are to
be issued in this month.
Maintenance Challenges
Giving a different mood to the sym-
posium, Christophe Cubières, a Bureau
Veritas senior engineer, pointed out that
the real world is quite different from the
regulators’ expectations. Bureau Veritas
has audited 45 rotorcraft operators in
recent years. These audits took place in
Europe, Russia, the Americas, Asia, the
Middle East and Africa.
Cubières and his team have seen recur-
rent weaknesses in quality assurance. “It is
supposed not only to survey the compli-
ance of the organization to the regulation
but also to measure and improve its per-
formance,” Cubières pointed out. Except
for large operators, SMS will remain a
“dusty and pre-formatted book on a shelf,”
Cubières worried, due to a lack of knowl-
edge and insufficient resources.
Maintenance training is noted to be
“weak.” Cubières sees a lack of formalized
standards. He also emphasized a lack of
In Europe, EASA should bring national
authorities closer to operators, Cubières
suggested. It also should be “more involved
in practical airworthiness matters.”
David Downey, Bell Helicopter’s vice
president for flight operation/safety,
expressed a concern that the three major
authorities frame airworthiness directive
(AD) compliance as if there is a major air-
line maintenance organization capability.
“The infrastructure for engineers (mainte-
nance personnel) to actually comply with
alert service bulletins outside of North
Chart on the left shows that commercial air transport, including helicopter EMS, accounted for 19 percent of the accidents EHSAT analyzed, with general aviation accounting for 45
percent and aerial work at 32 percent. Incidents most likely occurred during enroute phase of flight, followed by approach/landing, maneuvering and takeoff, as shown on right.




Training | goveRnment agencies
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51 March 2010 | rotor & Wing Magazine WWW. r ot o r a n d Wi n g . c o M
America and the EU is very different.
There are 120 countries or so where Bell
has helicopters.”
There is still no Internet access in
many places. “If an operator is flying out in
remote areas—it can take a year before air-
worthiness directives actually get to a small
operator flying seismic surveys in Papua
New Guinea,” Downey told Rotor & Wing.
In Nepal, the national aviation authority
only employs two people to oversee com-
mercial operations, according to Downey.
At a small operator, a single person can
be both the pilot and the mechanic. There-
fore, Bell Product Support strives to make
maintenance as easy as possible for these
operators. “We try to avoid special tools
like an expensive magnifier. We try to use
tools the operator can find in his standard
toolbox or can be locally procured,” he
summarized. One of Bell’s ongoing safety
initiatives is the development of a cockpit
information recorder. It can be used for
flight data monitoring (i.e. quality assur-
ance) and accident investigation. A feature
is that images of the instrument panel can
be read by optical recognition software and
in turn, can generate graphs.
Could flight simulators contribute to
the targeted safety improvement? Thales
Training & Simulation program man-
ager for FSTD (flight simulation training
device) development Bernard Del Ghin-
garo believes so. He explained how and
why the use of simulators may well grow
from small to significant.
“Training is the top category for the
EHEST’s recommendations,” he said.
One benefit of using simulators is heli-
copters are thus kept for revenue flights.
Moreover, the instructor commands the
environment, notably in terms of traffic
and weather. Simulators also enable safer
training when it comes to tailrotor failure,
entry into IMC and autorotations. Still, in
a full flight simulator, the trainee will be
closer to the reality of a malfunction.
“In a real helicopter, malfunctions are
fake. In a simulator, malfunctions are real,”
Del Ghingaro said.
Yet, in Europe, only 14 full flight simu-
lators can be found for civil helicopters.
“Historically, the cost ratio between FSTDs
and real aircraft has not been as attractive
as for airplanes,” Del Ghingaro said.
This may be changing. FSTDs are
becoming cheaper to use, according to
Del Ghingaro. Simultaneously, FSTD
standards are becoming more harmo-
nized [see related story on page 12].
Technology is helping, too. Simulating
the flight of a helicopter is highly complex.
Now, the software and hardware to run
these real-time models are available at
lower cost.
Similarly, visual aspects are more
important for helicopter operations,
which take place closer to the ground.
Simulators thus need larger fields of view
and better details. “Visual system technol-
ogy is now available to provide high-fideli-
ty helicopter training,” Del Ghingaro said.
Brian Humphries, who is both the
chairman of the British Helicopter Associ-
ation (BHA) and the CEO of the European
Business Aviation Association (EBAA),
presented the International Standard for
Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO) as
a proven SMS approach available to the
helicopter industry. This kind of effort is
worth it, he insisted. For example, the fatal
accident rate in the North Sea has been
halved since the 1980s, notably due to the
use of SMS. IS-BAO is suitable to both
small and large operators.
Humphries introduced IS-BAO as a
professional code of practice. A report
analyzed 297 business aviation accidents
and determined that more than one-third
could have been prevented, if the operator
had implemented IS-BAO, Humphries
asserted. “Insurance companies are start-
ing to understand by cutting premiums,”
he said.
IS-BAO has been in use for fixed-wing
operators for some time, and “minimal
adjustment” is needed for the helicop-
ter industry. IS-BAO is based on ICAO
standards and recommended practices. It
also draws from corporate best practices,
regulations and guidance. Finally, it tailors
ISO9000 principles to aviation. It is already
recognized as a standard by the European
Committee for Standardization (CEN).
For successf ul i mpl ementati on,
“You need commitment from the top,”
Humphries emphasized. Implementation
starts with a safety risk profile and gap
analysis. Hazard identification, analysis
and mitigation then becomes a continu-
ous process. IS-BAO was developed and is
administered by the International Business
Aviation Council (IBAC). IBAC is a coun-
cil regrouping 15 business aviation associa-
tions from around the wold. It represents
business aviation at ICAO.
There are now more than 200 business
aviation operators registered. For newcom-
ers, support is available from other IS-BAO
registered organizations and IBAC experts.
There are approximately 100 auditors
around the world, accredited and moni-
tored by IBAC.
Unmanned Ruling
EASA rulemaking officer David Haddon unveiled EASA’s philosophy in a sec-
tor that could become significant over the coming decades—unmanned aircraft
systems (UAS). There are currently 257 unmanned rotorcraft types at various
stages of development or in service in the world. A notable portion of them are
candidates for civil roles, he said.
“Their safety is not demonstrated but manufacturers face a Catch-22 situation,”
Haddon pointed out. Regulators are not willing to develop rules before a need is
established for such aircraft. But these companies do not want to invest without
the assurance a design can be certified and operated in a civil activity, Haddon
“EASA wants to break this Catch-22 situation,” he said. A principle is that base
certification specifications will be chosen from kinetic energy equivalent. A lot
still has to be worked out. For example, what could be safe separation distances?
“EASA is committed to develop rules for civil UAS but they will be allowed to
operate only if they demonstrate equivalent safety to manned aircraft,” Haddon
stated. He insisted that the industry must get it right the first time.
European Safety
13_RW_030110_EASA_p48_51.indd 51 2/18/10 1:35:51 PM
erry Ventrella has piloted 41
different aircraft—fixed and
rotary wing—in as many years.
He’s flown combat missions
across the globe. He’s been nominated
for multiple aviation halls of fame. When
asked to consider his career, the 61-year-
old Chicagoan shrugged. “I haven’t done
anything special,” he said. “But it does
seem pretty bizarre, considering all I ever
wanted to do was teach music.”
“My parents were musically inclined,
and I was drawn in that direction,” he
explained. “The French horn was my
instrument, and Mozart’s concertos
were my favorite to play.” How did he
take a seismic leap from horn concertos
to helicopters? Speaking to him at the
Chicago Brauhaus, over an assortment of
photographs dating back to the 1960s, it
became clear that the key to the answer
lies with a nickname: Huey. “When I
graduated high school in ‘66, we were
at war in Vietnam,” he said, lifting a
photo of a helicopter emblazoned with a
chicken. “I felt a patriotic duty, so I joined
the Army.”
Hello Huey
A boyish curiosity about aircraft led him
to request fixed-wing mechanic school,
but helicopters flying overhead during
basic training captivated him. “I heard sto-
ries about helicopter mechanics getting to
fly missions with flight crews,” he said. “So
I applied for a transfer.”
After basic training he completed
Bell UH-1 Iroquois and Boeing CH-47
Chinook maintenance courses. He was
about to deploy as a mechanic when he
risked applying to flight school. “I didn’t
think I would pass the application test,” he
recalled. He did, and soon found himself
in the first phase of flight training.
White-Winged Warrior
The rotary valves of his French horn were
forgotten as he took up the balsa-wood
rotor blades of the 1951 Bell OH-13,
a Korean War veteran and star of the
popular 1950s TV show Whirlybirds.
“I remember the show,” Ventrella said.
“I was flying a historic warbird!” During
advanced training he transitioned to the
Huey, graduating in February 1969. One
month later the 20-year-old was a Huey
“Slick” pilot in Vietnam, flying combat
assault, extraction and re-supply mis-
sions for the 1st Air Cavalry Division. His
company’s call sign was “Chickenman”, a
humerous nod to the 1966 radio series
spoof of Batman (see photo on page 53.)
Ventrella was thrilled by flying, and
refined his skills and techniques such as
low-level and formation flight. “There
were no nav-aids other than the occa-
sional non-directional beacon,” he point-
ed out. “It was all good old-fashioned
pilotage and dead reckoning.” But it was
on-the-job training, with a heavy price. “I
saw terrible things,” he said. “Some good
friends died.”
Ventrella doesn’t dwell on the brutality
of war, and punctuates even dark memo-
ries with humor. During one mission, his
helicopter was hit by enemy gunfire and
he landed in a field. With a battle raging
nearby, his copilot and gunner took the
downed Huey’s M60 machine guns and
boarded a sister ship, leaving Ventrella
and his crew chief vulnerable as they wait-
By Anne Grahn
UH-1 Iroquois sets pilot on the path to aviation Hall of Fame.
FROM Mozart
TO Huey
Fellow aviators (not shown) saluted Gerry Ventrella
as he disembarked from his last mission flight at
Camp Speicher in Iraq on Dec. 30, 2007.



14_RW_030110_Vent_p52_55.indd 52 2/18/10 1:23:49 PM
53 march 2010 | rotor & Wing magazine WWW. r ot o r a n d Wi n g . c o m
Mozart to Huey
ed for it to return. It never did.
He smiled at the memory of an Ameri-
can soldier approaching them a few hours
into their wait. “I could still hear the gun-
fire,” he said. “We were all alone, some-
where along the Cambodian border in
enemy territory, when all of the sudden this
Special Forces guy appears out of nowhere.
He didn’t say a word—just gave us a smile
and a six-pack of beer!”
After seven hours, a Huey and Chinook
managed to withstand the gunfire and
extracted them. Ventrella’s tour of duty
ended soon afterward, and he left with
a promotion. He had flown 813 combat
hours and was awarded 18 Air Medals.
A Teacher is Born
Ventrella went back to Fort Eustis, Va.,
where he’d first learned about helicopters.
Three years and a Bronze Star later he was
there to teach flight controls, test flight
procedures and rotary-wing aerodynam-
ics. “I still loved music,” he said. “But avia-
tion was my life.”
Through the G.I. Bill he earned a fixed-
wing commercial license, followed by a CFI
and CFII. He worked for several years as a
fixed-wing instructor at Chicago’s Midway
Intl Airport (MDW) before becoming an
aviation safety inspector for the FAA, and
then a designated pilot examiner (DPE).
“I enjoyed civilian flying,” Ventrella said.
“But I missed military helicopter opera-
tions, so I joined the Reserves.” He taught
fixed and rotary-wing flight to reservists
and reverted to his military rank on mis-
sions in the U.S., Honduras and Egypt, hap-
pily flying Hueys again.
By 1983 he was a chief warrant officer
4 (CW4), a senior-level expert in aviation.
When his reserve command was deacti-
vated in 1997, he continued civilian work
as the Army placed him in the Individual
Ready Reserve.
The Enemy Within
During a routine flight physical in 2001,
he faced his deadliest enemy yet. It was
cancer, and it was closing in on his carotid
artery—the doctor told him he would
never fly again.
Undaunted, he tracked down a spe-
cialist and underwent surgeries, chemo-
therapy and radiation. He wasn’t ground-
ed for long. He beat the cancer, received
his first class medical certificate, and was
back to work (as a contract pilot, flight
instructor, weather observer and DPE) in
2002. He was 55 years old and eager to
return to the military. He got his wish—
by 2005, he was back in the Reserves. He
continued working and wondered if he
would be activated.
Soldier On
In 2006, a specialized counter-insurgency
battalion was ramping up in Iraq (see
Rotor & Wing, “Spies In The Sky,” May
2007). U. S. Army Task Force ODIN
(short for observe, detect, identify and
neutralize) combats improvised explosive
devices (IEDs) with reconnaissance.
Fi xe d- wi ng a s s et s , i ncl udi ng
unmanned General Atomics Warriors
and modified Beech/Raytheon Hurons,
are coordinated with rotary assets such
as the Boeing AH-64 Apache into a
“persistent stare,” allowing combat com-
manders to stealthily observe insurgents
as they scout locations for IEDs. The unit
needed experienced pilots and having
instructed in the Huron, Ventrella was
ideal. He arrived at Camp Speicher in
northern Iraq in January 2007. It had been
nearly 40 years since he had first gone to
war, and the landscape shift from jungle
Ventrella’s 227th Assault Battalion in Vietnam, part of the 1st Air Cavalry Division, carried the
call sign “Chickenman,” as seen in this photo taken of Huey maintenance in 1969.
14_RW_030110_Vent_p52_55.indd 53 2/18/10 3:44:54 PM
54 RotoR & Wing magazine | maRch 2010 WWW. R ot o R a n d Wi n g . c o m
Military | PRofile
to desert was dramatic, both literally and
In Vietnam, Ventrella interacted with
the infantry he supported every day. “We
were going directly into hot LZs with
troops and pulling them out under hostile
fire,” he noted. Unlike other pilots, who
returned to their ships after battle, Army
pilots like Ventrella “lived with our guys
on the ground, eating C-rations cooked
over cans of dirt mixed with jet fuel and
swapping stories.”
In Iraq, he piloted the Huron covertly,
offering troops he neither knew nor saw his
assistance through high reconnaissance.
Experience keeps the change in per-
spective. “I know the war-fighting value
of reconnaissance,” he said. “Even though
I wasn’t on the front line in Iraq, I realize
aerial intelligence directly impacts our
soldiers on the ground.”
Ventrella was surprised that two fellow
pilots had also flown helicopters in the 1st
Cavalry Division in Vietnam in 1969. One
of them, CW4 Lonnie Clark, had been a
Bell AH-1 Cobra “Snake” pilot in the same
battalion, and had probably covered him
on missions.
Ventrella is grateful that he was able to
battle through cancer and serve in Iraq,
and he’s not alone. “Gerry is always will-
ing to share his aviation knowledge and
experience to make the company and the
task force a better organization,” enthused
Maj. Mike Milo, executive officer of Ven-
trella’s brigade company.
After his final mission, Ventrella was
given an award from the commander of
the 1st Armored Division, and his 19th
Air Medal. As he touched down on the
runway at Camp Speicher for the last
time, he was met by the salutes of fellow
aviators, who lined the taxiway in a show
of respect.
Soon after returning home, he was
retired from service as he reached the
Army’s mandatory age of 60. “There was
more to contribute,” he told me. “I didn’t
feel done yet.” And he’s not.
Safety Rules
A founding member and board of director
of the Chicago Flight Instructor Associa-
tion, he completed the University of South-
ern California’s Aviation Safety Officer
program in 1976, and has been involved
in safety for decades as a CFI, FAA inspec-
tor and pioneer safety counselor in the
“Wings” pilot proficiency program.
“As the Army says, attitudes should
be adjusted to prevention,” he cautioned.
“The first accident I ever investigated
involved two men and a seven-year-old
boy. The boy’s father was flying a well-
equipped aircraft, but he wasn’t instru-
ment rated. He got caught in some weath-
er and lost control. If he’d just known how
to set the autopilot, they’d be alive.”
He gives safety talks and courtesy
checks to pilots in flight schools, flying
clubs and law enforcement agencies,
including the U.S. Coast Guard and the
Chicago Police Department. “I try to
pass on lessons learned from accident
investigations, prevention courses and my
experience as a weather observer.”
Hall of Fame
Military retirement hasn’t slowed Ven-
trella down. He is scheduled for induction
into the Illinois Military Aviation Hall of
Fame this summer, and was nominated
for the 2010 HAI “Salute to Excellence”
safety award. In the words of Lt. Col.
James Jenke (Ret.), who’s known him
since 1972, “Gerry Ventrella is the ulti-
mate aviator’s aviator. He sets the stan-
dard in every system he’s ever flown.”
He’s logged more than 14,000 flight
hours across three continents—nearly
two years in the cockpit. Half of his hours
are fixed-wing, but he considers himself a
helicopter pilot first.
Of all the aircraft he’s flown, the Huey
is his favorite, and it’s an apt choice.
Recently retired by the U.S. Army, it’s
widely described as “durable, versatile
and able to continue flying after heavy
damage.” Sound familiar?
“It’s like an old friend,” Ventrella said
fondly. “The sound of those blades is bet-
ter than Mozart!”
From left to right, Lonnie Clark, D company, 227th Battalion, Ventrella and Ken Inabnit, 1st Brigade
“Flying Circus.” All three Iraq veterans served in the 1st Cavalry Division in Vietnam in 1969.
Then-warrant officer candidate Gerry Ventrella
in a Bell OH-13 at Fort Wolters, Texas. Photo
was taken in June 1968.
14_RW_030110_Vent_p52_55.indd 54 2/18/10 1:24:54 PM
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56 RotoR & Wing magazine | maRch 2010 WWW. R ot o R a n d Wi n g . c o m
Safety Watch
Stay with the Wreckage!
he business of developing strate-
gies for actions following aviation
mishaps is not usually a favorite
topic for helicopter operators, but
it does represent an area of flight planning,
and mission execution, that can prove to
be absolutely pivotal where bottom-line
safety concerns are considered. Optimum
strategies dealing with post-crash actions
are usually thought of as so unlikely to be
needed that they receive little attention
during mission planning, but the particu-
lars of one recent anecdote would seem to
illuminate an alternative argument.
A couple of years ago a news article
came to national light which described
heroics exhibited by a U.S. Forest Service
employee after the crash of a small aircraft
(it doesn’t matter whether it was an airplane
or a helicopter) in the mountains of Mon-
tana. The Forest Service group leader, it
turns out, was one of four persons on board,
as the ill-fated single-engine encountered
terrain in a remote setting, at a high eleva-
tion. One occupant was killed on impact,
but three souls survived to deal with some
interesting post-crash challenges.
A second fatality, after an uncomfort-
able night in the cold, imposed itself on
the group as burns from a post-crash
fire took their toll on another occupant,
leaving one survivor with fractures, and
the Forest Service group leader relatively
uninjured. The uninjured survivor con-
vinced the fellow with fractures to follow,
on foot, in a walk out of the mountains,
toward envisioned help.
During the torturous two-day trek
a helicopter was spotted by the highly
stressed pair, and the team leader tried
to attract its attention with lots of yelling
and arm waving, but to no avail. Their
hellish hike was consigned to continue.
Finally, after interminable suffering, the
couple was able to achieve completion
of their awful journey to at least an edge
of civilization. Eventually, after several
days spent recovering and debriefing, the
group leader became widely lauded for an
extended list of “heroics”, largely imagined
by an innocently appreciative public.
The amazing aspect of this story is not
that the uninjured survivor was able to
“force” an eventually successful mobiliza-
tion to eventual assistance, and that lavish
but misplaced praise was awarded, but that
the victims, and most lay observers, failed
to appreciate, or even notice, that the rescue
helicopter had flown directly to the wreck-
age of the aircraft, and that the survivors
would have realized assistance and rescue
two days earlier than recorded if they had
stayed with their wreckage.
The helicopter community at large
should be able to draw considerable wis-
dom from this story. Operating areas, of
course, are widely variable in terms of envi-
ronmental conditions and population den-
sities, and thinking pilots must always keep
correctly proportioned strategies in mind
accordingly. Many flights, taking advan-
tage of the helicopter’s attractive trans-
port flexibilities, are conducted in remote
geographies, and/or challenging weather
conditions. Other operations, for those
perhaps more fortunate, are conducted in
the vicinity of well-populated areas, and
can offer mission proximities never more
than short distances away from perceived
access to ready help. Either way, many cases
of downed aircraft producing mobile sur-
vivors involve some element of temptation
toward the allure of walking in the direction
of imagined comfort and assistance.
In recent years a newly upgraded prolif-
eration of contemporarily available survival
equipment, most electronic by category,
has been injected into the aviation mar-
ketplace, contributing substantially to
potential survival strategies. Any number
of “personal locator beacons” can now be
carried, greatly enhancing the likelihood
that a downed airman or passenger can be
found quickly and easily. Additionally, GPS
locators are now so common that very few
public service organizations, or associated
individuals likely to be involved with search
and rescue activities, are not familiar with
latitude/longitude navigational particulars
and universally standard position locating.
And cell phone networks, combined with
handheld radio transceivers accessing any
imaginable communications band, make it
increasingly improbable that an air trans-
port mishap survivor would ever suddenly
find himself on the ground minus the ability
to communicate with assistance.
But the Montana story, availability
of advanced equipment notwithstand-
ing, provides an opportunity to stress
a categorically proven and time tested
cardinal rule of post crash survival. Unless
and until ready assistance can be posi-
tively confirmed, ALWAYS STAY IN THE
downed airframe, whether hosting its own
operating ELT or other beacon, will almost
always be found more quickly (and much
more reliably) than a survivor, or even a
group of survivors, on foot.
Even if an ELT is removed from an
airframe (so that, for instance, it might be
“saved” from a fire threat, and made avail-
able for “walking” with survivors), and
even if “known” civilization and assistance
can be reached “just over the next ridge,”
resist the temptation to strike out on a
walking gamble and STAY WITH THE
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58 RotoR & Wing magazine | maRch 2010 WWW. R ot o R a n d Wi n g . c o m
CSAR – Not Just a ‘Spur
of the Moment’ Thing
here were at least two factors
behind last year’s decision to ter-
minate the funding for the U.S.
Air Force’s Combat Search and
Rescue (CSAR-X) aircraft. The first was
the obvious one that it saved money by an
incoming president eager for quick wins.
It meant not beginning another procure-
ment chain and not re-starting a program
that still had a lingering bitter aftertaste
following the win by Boeing’s HH-47, fol-
lowed by a vehement challenge, then the
success of overturning the decision. It is
easier to drop such a program totally than
re-open a “can of worms.”
The second factor involves political
gambling. The gamble is that most politi-
cians believe in the principle of ‘it will be
alright on the night’ in regard to CSAR. The
lessons of Vietnam are forgotten. Another
era—different challenges, replaced by
an unstated belief (and hope) that the
professionalism and ability of the armed
forces to throw a rescue mission together
with the existing assets at their disposal in
the face of adversity will, unless they are
very unlucky, result in success. And the
frequency. There should not be too many
Captain Scott O’Grady missions.
Let me illustrate how a belief in oppor-
tunist rescue could lead to a reduced reli-
ance on specialist CSAR assets—either
within the U. S. or Europe. During Opera-
tion Glacier 2, focused on the Jugroom
Fort in lower Helmand Province on Jan. 15,
2007, and on the spur of the moment, two
British Apache AH-64D helicopters each
with two Royal Marines perched precari-
ously onto the side pods and “bungeed” on
to the aircraft, launched a rescue mission
to save an isolated soldier (believed to be
still alive) into the very teeth of insurgent
forces. The units involved had no training
or specialization in this kind of combined
rescue. The board of inquiry later stated
that: “the courage and professionalism of
those men that recovered his body was
exemplary and in the best traditions of the
UK’s armed forces.”
While at the time this was judged as
the right decision to take during the battle,
many a government bean counter will sub-
sequently wonder why there needs to be a
specialization in personnel recovery (PR),
or CSAR, depending on your name for
rescuing military people (usually aircrew
but not exclusively) isolated and needing
help in battle (in many cases behind enemy
The story of the Jugroom Fort rescue
is superbly narrated in Ed Macy’s book
“Apache.” It is a testament to military dar-
ing, the best of the element of surprise and
prosecuting a plan of action totally unex-
pected by your enemy. In the cold glare of
day, however, it should be admitted that
they were very lucky to get away with it.
But then war can be like that. A well-
planned mission can still fail due to some
chance event, and equally one that is
thrown together at the last moment can
sometimes succeed—largely as it is some-
thing the enemy, and perhaps even your
own side, least expects. If your forward
elements haven’t modified their behavior,
then why should the enemy expect any-
thing different?
During the Jugroom Fort rescue, all the
elements usually required for a classic per-
sonnel recovery mission, as most of today’s
practitioners would agree, were on hand.
They had the rescue vehicles (albeit those
were AH-64D Apache Longbows) and
escorts (another two Apache Longbows
flying higher above them as they entered
the danger area).
They even had the assistance of a B1
bomber flying very high overhead that
added to the confusion of the insurgents.
The ground protection force comprised
a handful of the Royal Marines who had
initially volunteered for this extraordinary
mission. Finally, there was an AWACS on
station to tie the communications together.
And it worked!
Although there is a procedure for
rescuing fellow downed aircrew using the
AH-64 Apache, it was not in general use.
There was also no Plan B to extract them-
selves had anything gone wrong during
Plan A—especially if the rescue force had
begun to take casualties during the rescue.
Considering that a couple of the crewmen
assisted in the recovery outside the aircraft,
this potentially could also have resulted in
the loss of an Apache.
What they did was not wrong, but it
would be unlikely to achieve the same
results again. The danger lies in that the
people who are making decisions on what
to support and what not to finance might
start to believe that ‘spur of the moment’
CSAR is the way forward. It isn’t. The
danger also multiplies in a joint operating
environment such as exists in Afghani-
stan, where multiple national forces oper-
ate side-by-side.
A small team within the European Air
Group, based at Air Command in the UK,
runs an annual Combined Joint Personnel
Recovery course that has been supported
over the years by France, Italy, Germany
and others. They are but a small team,
doing a good job, but also short of funds.
What personnel recovery/combat
search and rescue specialization, equip-
ment and training delivers is the prepara-
tion and knowledge to plan for, and deal
with, the unexpected. To limit casualties
and extract to a plan when things go wrong.
Without dedicated CSAR, it rapidly turns
into a deadly game of chance.
By Andrew Drwiega
MiliTARy | combat SaR
Military Insider
16_RW_030110_MilitaryIN_p58_59.indd 58 2/18/10 3:26:53 PM


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55 .................Switlik
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60 RotoR & Wing magazine | maRch 2010 WWW. R ot o R a n d Wi n g . c o m
Law Enforcement
Currency vs. Profciency
acations are great. They give you
a chance to put the stresses of
work and daily chores aside for
awhile and decompress. Occu-
pying your mind with something other
than flying can sometimes be a good thing,
but once you get back in the cockpit, you
may find that the rust sets in rather quickly.
Picture this: you walk back into the hangar
after a nice vacation, greet your evening
partner as you relieve the day crew, and
then almost immediately receive a call to
medevac a car crash victim.
As you strap in, you notice it takes you
an extra second or two to orient yourself
on the start-up instruments, but you suc-
cessfully avoid the hot start. You land at
the scene uneventfully, yet you rushed the
approach and did not recite your landing
checklist in your head prior. You never
even considered what you’d do if you lost
an engine (or THE engine, for that matter).
Heading off to the hospital in the dark-
ness, it takes noticeably longer for the
sight picture of the helipad lighting to look
familiar to you as you start your approach.
Damn—you’re so tasked with flying a good
approach, that you forgot your landing
checklist again. You return to base and
land, much to the appreciation of your
burning calf muscles; it feels like you were
trying to bend the tail rotor pedals during
your platform landing. All these issues
may have been transparent to the rest of
the crew and passengers, yet you know
your performance was below your best.
A quick check of your logbook shows
that you are definitely within the currency
requirements of FAR parts 61.56 and
61.57, which, in a nutshell, require you
to have a flight review every 24 months,
as well as to have accomplished three
takeoffs and landings in the preceding 90
days. But while your currency advocates
your legality or your minimum compli-
ance with established rules, it is your
proficiency, or by definition, your “ability
to perform a given skill with expert cor-
rectness” that is in need of attention.
Flying is a perishable skill. The issues
described above should be clear flags
that your skills are less than peaked, and
you are cutting into your margin of safety.
When you are out of practice, consider-
ably more than your normal amount of
pilot attention goes towards performing
critical flight skills such as takeoff and
landing, and the amount of brainpower
left for judgment and decision-making is
decreased. If you are not able to multitask
other processes such as reciting checklists
or running the “what if ” scenario in your
head at crucial points in your flight, then
your task saturation boundary may be
closer than you realize, and in the event of
a real emergency, your ability to think and
act quickly might disappoint you.
Of course on a normal basis, certain
flying skills will be used more than others.
FAR parts 61.56 and 61.57 were created in
an attempt to help retain the most basic
of those skills at a bare minimum. But the
unpredictable nature of law enforcement
missions means that any of your more
specialized skills can be called upon at
any time. It is imperative that agencies
dedicate ample and frequent flight time to
continued training and proficiency. Flying
enough actual missions does not preclude
the need for actual training. There is no
question that flying mission after mission
certainly helps to retain skills, since tasks
most often repeated are best remem-
bered. But speaking for myself, I’d say I’ve
acquired retainable experiences more so
than retainable skills during actual mis-
sions, especially in the scenarios where
I’ve scared myself … not my favorite
way to train, by the way. Proficiency is
best brought back by dedicated training
flights, where the pilot’s mind is in a mode
to receive, and instructor’s mind is in the
mode to teach and critique.
If your agency is going to pride itself
on being able to respond to a wide
variety of specialized missions such as
tactical insertion, hoist and medevac,
my feeling is this: If you don’t frequently
train for it, don’t advertise that you do
it. Agencies that are involved in a recur-
rent training program of their own,
with an established way of critiquing
and documenting proficiency, stand the
best chance of maintaining the safest of
operations, while being readily capable
of conducting their specialized missions,
and easily satisfying any FAA require-
ments for currency in the process.
Ideally, upon returning from vacation,
after greeting our coworkers, we should
all make it a point to greet our other
partner—our aircraft! Open the pilot’s
manual, do some “arm-chair” f lying
and review emergency procedures, and
request a proficiency flight to sharpen
your skills before those in need ask you
to use them.
By Frank Lombardi
PubliC ServiCe | Police
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61 march 2010 | rotor & Wing magazine WWW. r ot o r a n d Wi n g . c o m
April 2010:
Quad A Preview—A look at what to expect at the annual
Army Aviation extravaganza held this month, April 14-17, 2010 at
the Fort Worth Convention Center in Fort Worth, Texas.
Dream Machine—Rotor & Wing contributing editor Richard
Whittle shares an excerpt from his about-to-be-published book on
the life and times of the V-22, “The Dream Machine: The Untold His-
tory of the Notorious V-22 Osprey.”
Glass Cockpit Upgrades—After talking to people who
have upgraded their rotorcraft from analog to all-digital glass
cockpits, their enthusiasm is contagious. The improvements in per-
formance, ease of use, and maintenance are stunning as the stories
in this article attest.
Electronic Maintenance Tracking—Technology as a
tool for helicopter maintenance technicians.
MRO Safety Management Systems—StandardAero
experts explain the philosophy and challenges in implementing
a safety management system and why StandardAero put SMS in
place well before it was mandated.
Bonus Distribution: 2010 Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) Convention, April 7–10 in Orlando, Fla.; Quad-A 2010, April 14–17 in
Fort Worth, Texas.
May 2010:
New Technology Sneak Peak—We’ll look at advance-
ments in technological areas like external threat awareness, opera-
tional economics and training.
PBN—Integrating performance-based navigation into the rotor-
craft environment.
Desert Defense—Helicopters of the U. S. Customs and Border
Protection Yuma Air Branch stop crimes and save lives in the harsh
environment along the Arizona-Mexico border.
Rotor Blade Balancing—The rotor blade generates an
aerodynamic force unlike any other. With so much riding on them,
helicopter rotor blade testing is critical.
PLUS: V-22 Update
Bonus Distribution: SeaAirSpace Expo 2010, May 3–5 in Baltimore, Md. EBACE 2010, May 4–6 in Geneva, Switzerland. American
Helicopter Society (AHS) Forum 2010, May 11–13 in Phoenix, Ariz.
17_RW_030110_Col3_p60_61.indd 61 2/18/10 4:19:52 PM
Public Safety
Suspension of Disbelief
recently attended an aerial fire-
fighting conference in Rome, Italy.
The food was great, the people are
wonderful, but I managed some-
how. Conference attendees came from
all aspects of aerial firefighting. Great
discussions were held in the conference
itself and more importantly in the bar.
One bar comment comes from an
observation over the last 40 years. I don’t
drink, not a big deal, I never did drink, but
I have observed at conferences and the
HAI Convention that more truth is spo-
ken at 11 p.m. in the bar then at 11 a.m. on
the convention floor. The hot issue at the
conference was the use of night vision gog-
gles (NVGs) for firefighting. I listened as
various speakers and attendees discussed
plans to incorporate NVG technology into
their operations. This included Canadair
CL-415 and Skycrane operations. Finally
on the last day of the conference, I had to
say something.
I know that comes as a shock to those
of you that know me. What I said is this;
Los Angeles City and County Fire Air
Operations have conducted more night
firefighting operations then the rest of
the world put together. Los Angeles City
doesn’t use NVGs for firefighting. Coun-
ty pilots do use them for flights over dark
terrain to and from the fire, but not on
the actual drop itself.
The only pilot fatality that the Los
Angeles County Fire Department has
suffered in 53 years of service occurred in
1977 while conducting NVG operations
on a fire. This accident occurred when the
unit employed much different technology
than we have today and is not a straight
apples-to-apples comparison. The find-
ings of the accident review board listed the
mixing of two different agencies working
from the same helispot as a major contrib-
uting factor to the accident.
I take from the report the following:
the number of helicopters that can be uti-
lized from one helispot should be limited
to two, certainly not more than three and
then only if they are from the same agency.
The ability of the pilot to maintain spatial
awareness of where other aircraft are
located is greatly hampered at night.
Differences in protocols among agen-
cies for separation and traffic patterns
do not help the individual pilot’s aware-
ness of his flight environment. If you
have a large fire and two independent
helispots can be established with non-
conflicted routing between the helispot
and the respective flanks to be dropped
on, the number of hel i copters can
increased accordingly. If two agencies
are employed, separating the agencies to
different helispots is very desirable.
Pilots must account for the higher
risk element of night operations. Good
moonlight, lots of ambient light from
infrastructure, and a reasonable number
of aircraft from a limited mix of agencies
working on the fire all reduce risk. The
gain side needs close attention. Will this
operation save lives or property? Can
the night operations add to the safety of
firefighters on the ground? If the answer
is no, and all we are going to do is put out
weeds in the middle of nowhere, then
I for one strongly believe that your risk
versus gain is out of balance. Los Angeles
County Air Operations evaluated night
snorkel operations with its Firehawk
The unit concluded that hovering
four-to-eight feet over water at night
with poor viability due to rotor wash
was unduly risky. At night, Firehawks are
filled with a fire hose off of an engine. I
would caution others to take a hard look
at this issue before committing to night
snorkel operations. The idea of trying to
scope on goggles with a Canadair aircraft
off a lake, seems a bit sporty to me. But I
am not a fixed-wing pilot so others will
need to address that issue. I am a quali-
fied helicopter coordinator and have
worked helicopters and Canadair aircraft
together on many occasions, and I would
refuse to attempt it at night.
Several years ago, a pilot was quoted
as saying that if he would have been
allowed to conduct night operations in
his Hughes 500 with a water drop bucket,
he would have extinguished a Santa
Ana-driven fire. Let’s say that for once in
my life I agree with Hillary Clinton, that
pilot’s comment “would require the will-
ing suspension of disbelief.” The fire went
on to destroy hundreds of homes and the
politicians grabbed his comment to try
and vilify anyone who questioned night
aerial firefighting operations. This was
in an attempt to move the spotlight off of
their own neglect of the issues at hand.
The fire pilot community has been
trying to find balance on this issue ever
since. The Los Angeles County Fire
pilot who died in that accident was
Tom Grady. Let’s hope Tom is the only
one that pays the price for the lessons
By Lee Benson
June 8-9, 2010
Denver, Colorado | Hyatt Regency Tech Center
The Safety & Training Summit is the only event where you’ll experience
real-world training and learn tips and strategies from helicopter operators
and other veterans in the rotorcraft community.
At the Safety & Training Summit, you’ll discover:
The best safety and training practices presented by veterans in the eld
Viable solutions you can implement in your day-to-day operations
The opportunity to get hands-on with FTDs and next generation safety solutions
Register today with VIP Code: ROTORWING to qualify
for Early Bird discounts on the Summit!
Brought to you by the editors of
18_RW_030110_Public_p62_64.indd 62 2/18/10 2:11:53 PM
June 8-9, 2010
Denver, Colorado | Hyatt Regency Tech Center
The Safety & Training Summit is the only event where you’ll experience
real-world training and learn tips and strategies from helicopter operators
and other veterans in the rotorcraft community.
At the Safety & Training Summit, you’ll discover:
The best safety and training practices presented by veterans in the eld
Viable solutions you can implement in your day-to-day operations
The opportunity to get hands-on with FTDs and next generation safety solutions
Register today with VIP Code: ROTORWING to qualify
for Early Bird discounts on the Summit!
Brought to you by the editors of
18_RW_030110_Public_p62_64.indd 63 2/18/10 2:12:08 PM
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