Improving safety in EMS and other rotary-wing flight ops

Avionics and training with possible new rules from FAA and NTSB will enhance safety and reduce CFIT.

TAWS and TCAS alerts

Avionics manufacturers introduced some significant hardware offerings at Heli-Expo 2009.

Honeywell, Sagem and Sandel are among those responding to FAA and NTSB recommendations, under newly created TSO-C194, that rotorcraft-specifically HEMS, law enforcement and offshore operators-adopt both audio and visually-enabled TAWS and TCAS alerts directly to the flightcrew.

For non-EFIS equipped aircraft, Sandel has introduced an HTAWS display that can be installed in place of an existing radio altimeter-since the unit is self contained, there is no need for a full MFD display or blind remote TAWS computer.

All OEMs meet the helicopter vibration standard DO 160F for panel-mounted installations.

Training providers and improved FTDs

Bell and Eurocopter both provide proprietary flight training and the highest level of simulation in their flight training devices (FTDs), many with Level D full-motion simulators. Previously available for only large rotorcraft and turbine fixed-wing aircraft, these training aids are increasingly available down to the level of single-turbine helicopters.

For years FlightSafety Intl has operated Level C and D simulators for several Sikorsky S76 models, and a recently added Level D simulator for the S92 is fully operational. Similarly, CAE and AgustaWestland have teamed to provide Level D simulation for the AW139.


Larger Part 29 rotorcraft use health and usage monitoring systems (HUMS) to provide technicians with live feedback of impending failure and significant wear. Standard on the Sikorsky S92, HUMS will be an option on the AW139, EC135 and S76D.

As the industry moves toward more electronic components and modular equipment, HUMS will eventually work its way into smaller Part 27 turbine aircraft, effectively increasing reliability and improving failure rates through continuous monitoring.

Fewer rushed unscheduled maintenance events will result in higher dispatch reliability and improved confidence.

The level of ground training has likewise improved, with fully integrated CRM and instructional hands-on computer replication available in the classroom. The effort expended by training providers and OEMs indicates their desire for safer pilots and for maintenance technicians to benefit from the crossover effect from the fixed-wing community.

Previously difficult or impossible to train for, situations like inadvertent IMC penetration or human factors issues can be recreated for operators of popular aircraft such as the AgustaWestland AW119 Koala, Bell 407 and Eurocopter EC130, all of which are flown primarily single-pilot.

These valuable flight training aids allow scenarios in which decision-making skills and complex failures can be flown and analyzed.

David Bjellos is the aviation manager for a private corporation whose flight department was the first in south Florida to achieve IS-BAO certification. The company operates a Gulfstream IVSP, a Dassault Falcon 2000, 2 Bell 407s and a Eurocopter EC120.


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