Under the new rule, all Part 135 helicopter operators
are required to:
Equip their helicopters with radio altimeters.
Have occupants wear life preservers and equip
helicopters with a 406 MHz Emergency Locator Transmitter
(ELT) when a helicopter is operated beyond power-off
glide distance from the shore.
Use higher weather minimums when identifying an
alternate airport in a flight plan.
Require that pilots are tested to handle flat-light,
whiteout, and brownout conditions and demonstrate
competency in recovery from an inadvertent encounter
with instrument meteorological conditions.
addition, under the new rule, all air ambulance
operators are required to:
Equip with Helicopter Terrain Awareness and Warning
Equip with a flight data monitoring system within four
Establish operations control centers if they are
certificate holders with 10 or more helicopter air
Institute pre-flight risk-analysis programs.
Ensure their pilots in command hold an instrument
Ensure pilots identify and document the highest obstacle
along the planned route before departure.
Comply with Visual Flight Rules (VFR) weather minimums,
Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) operations at
airports/heliports without weather reporting, procedures
for VFR approaches, and VFR flight planning.
Conduct the flight using Part 135 weather requirements
and flight crew time limitation and rest requirements
when medical personnel are on board.
Conduct safety briefings or training for medical
Since August 2004, the FAA has promoted initiatives to
reduce risk for helicopter air ambulance operations (See
FAA Fact Sheet). While accidents did decline in the
years following that effort, 2008 proved to be the
deadliest year on record with five accidents that
claimed 21 lives.
The FAA examined helicopter air ambulance accidents from
1991 through 2010 and determined 62 accidents that
claimed 125 lives could have been mitigated by today's
rule. While developing the rule, the FAA considered 20
commercial helicopter accidents from 1991 through 2010
(excluding air ambulances) that resulted in 39
fatalities. From 2011 through 2013, there were seven air
ambulance accidents resulting in 19 fatalities and seven
commercial helicopter accidents that claimed 20 lives.
The estimated cost of the final rule in present value
for the air ambulance industry is $224 million with a
total benefit of $347 million over 10 years. The cost
for other commercial operators is $19 million with a
total benefit of $83 million over 10 years. There is no
cost for any operators to use new Class G airspace
weather minimums for visual flying but the benefit is
$147 million over 10 years.