Aircrafts that are meant to save lives sometimes go down and end up taking lives away. Take for instance the recent New Mexico medical air transportation disaster. It is always a tragedy of epic proportions when patients and people on humanitarian endeavors lose their lives. It must be taken into consideration that most air ambulance crashes happen in difficult situations with little resources to organize the flights properly. Helicopter crashes have been of particular concern. An estimated 139 medical air transportation vehicles have crashed over the past 10 years and snuffing the lives of about 130 individuals including patients and crew members. However, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has now stepped in.
What is FAA Proposing for Medical Air Transportation Safety
The FAA has come up with specific guidelines for medical air transportation helicopter safety. It has proposed setting up of ground warning systems that can communicate effectively with the choppers of any impending danger. The FAA has also proposed placing restrictions on flight time and crew rest. Often, during crisis, the crew members are forced to stretch their work hours on humanitarian grounds. The FAA is planning on putting a stop to this. Further, it has proposed to set up centers in order to monitor weather and also track flights. Also, programs would be set up to analyze flight risks.
Expert Opinion on FAA’s Medical Air Transportation Safety Guidelines
Gary C. Robb, who is the author of “Helicopter Crash Litigation”, opined that the guidelines are a positive move towards medical air transportation safety and that there would certainly be fewer accidents in the future. However, he also added the guidelines have failed to take note of the fact that most difficulty is faced by medical air transportation helicopters at night. He drew attention to the fact that “night vision” goggles are of extreme importance here.
The organization that represents Med Evac helicopter operators issued a statement saying that it was yet to carefully review the FAA’s air transportation safety proposal and withheld its comment. The FAA has estimated that the new rules would cost the air ambulance industry about 136 million dollars over the next 10 years. However, one cannot estimate how many lives this move would save.