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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation A-09-003
Details
Synopsis: On July 27, 2007, about 1246 mountain standard time, two electronic news gathering (ENG) helicopters, N613TV and N215TV, collided in midair while maneuvering in Phoenix, Arizona. The Eurocopter AS350B2 helicopters, from local channels 3 and 15, had been covering a police pursuit. N613TV, the channel 3 helicopter, was operated by KTVK-TV, and N215TV, the channel 15 helicopter, was operated by U.S. Helicopters, Inc., under contract to KNXV-TV. Each helicopter had a pilot-reporter and a photographer on board. The occupants on board both helicopters were killed, and the helicopters were destroyed by impact forces and postcrash fire. The helicopters were operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. No flight plans had been filed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.
Recommendation: TO THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: Require electronic news gathering operators to use high-visibility blade paint schemes and high-visibility anticollision lights on their aircraft.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Alternate Action
Mode: Aviation
Location: Phoenix, AZ, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: LAX07MA231AB
Accident Reports: Midair Collision of Electronic News Gathering Helicopters KTVK-TV, Eurocopter AS350B2, N613TV, and U.S. Helicopters, Inc., Eurocopter AS350B2, N215TV
Report #: AAR-09-02
Accident Date: 7/27/2007
Issue Date: 2/9/2009
Date Closed: 10/5/2016
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FAA (Closed - Acceptable Alternate Action)
Keyword(s): Collision Avoidance, Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (Public Operators)

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 10/5/2016
Response: We note that AC 91-88, “Electronic News Gathering Operations,” recommends that helicopters used in ENG flight operations be equipped with (1) main and tail rotor blades that have high-visibility blade paint schemes, and (2) high-visibility anti-collision lighting that includes white strobe lights that are visible from all directions and a pulse light system for the aircraft landing lights. Although you did not require ENG operators to equip their aircraft with this safety equipment, we believe that the AC will raise awareness in the ENG community about the importance of maintaining aircraft visibility when conducting these unique operations. Consequently, we believe that the AC constitutes an acceptable alternate response to Safety Recommendation A-09-003, which is classified CLOSED--ACCEPTABLE ALTERNATE ACTION.

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 7/6/2016
Response: -From Michael P. Huerta, Administrator: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is developing the new Electronic News Gathering Operations Advisory Circular (AC) which will address these four recommendations when it is likely published in 2016. The AC will include best practices and guidelines for ENG pilots and aircraft operators and sample risk assessment tools for use in enhancing overall safety during operations. The AC will also promote the use of electronic traffic advisory systems and provide information regarding the equipage of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) equipment both voluntarily (ADS-B IN) and required (ADS-BOUT). The AC will also address pilot-reporter responsibilities and provide recommendations related to task management and delegation of assignments to ensure duties and responsibilities are safely accomplished during ENG operations. For ENG operators, the AC will highlight the advantages of utilizing high-visibility rotor blade paint schemes and high-visibility anti-collision lighting on their aircraft to aid in collision avoidance. Finally, this AC will incorporate pertinent information from the Helicopter Association International's ENG Aviation Safety Manual detailing best practices for ENG operations and other helicopter operations. The manual is available at the following Web site: https://www.rotor.org/portals/I/ENG_Safety_Manual.pdf The FAA will provide an immediate notification once the referenced AC has been published.

From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 4/8/2016
Response: In your November 22, 2010, letter, you told us that you planned to include, in the AC for ENG operations discussed above, a recommendation for operators to use high-visibility blade paint schemes and high-visibility anticollision lights on ENG aircraft, but that you did not believe a requirement for these added features would significantly affect aviation safety. We urged you to reconsider your position and to require the recommended enhancements. Pending your taking the recommended action, Safety Recommendation A-09-3 was classified “Open—Unacceptable Response” on February 24, 2011. We are concerned because, although this recommendation is more than 7 years old, we have received no additional information from you since your 2010 letter. Please inform us about any progress that you may have made to address this safety issue. In the meantime, Safety Recommendation A-09-3 remains classified OPEN--UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 2/24/2011
Response: The FAA indicated that it plans to include, in its AC for ENG operations, a recommendation for operators to use high-visibility blade paint schemes and high-visibility anticollision lights on ENG aircraft. The NTSB notes that the FAA believes a requirement for these added features will not significantly affect aviation safety, however. The NTSB is familiar with the requirements for airspace in which, and around which, ENG aircraft typically operate and we reiterate that it can be difficult for these pilots to adequately ensure separation from several other aircraft while conducting ENG-related duties. For example, to support their station’s ENG operations, the accident pilots were responsible for reporting, for communicating with their station’s news department on a dedicated radio, for communicating with the station’s photographer via an intercom, for scanning the monitor that showed the station broadcast and the video leaving the helicopter, and for monitoring police radio communications for information about the pursuit. Further, although informal procedures existed that the Phoenix-area ENG pilots were expected to follow regarding communications with other ENG pilots, evidence indicated that these procedures were not rigorously adhered to on the day of the accident, possibly because of the pilots’ additional responsibilities to provide coverage of the ongoing situation on the ground. The NTSB is aware that other aircraft operate in airspace similar to that in which ENG aircraft operate, and that these other aircraft are not required to be equipped with high-visibility blade paint or high-visibility anticollision lights. Nevertheless, we believe that the circumstances of this accident fully support this recommendation. We point out that during a postaccident interview, Phoenix-area ENG pilots stated that they occasionally lose sight of other helicopters when flying over the city because the helicopters tend to blend in with the terrain. These pilots also suggested that the addition of the recommended features would help them better discern other helicopters. The NTSB urges the FAA to reconsider its position not to require the recommended enhancements. Accordingly, pending the establishment of a requirement for ENG operators to use high-visibility blade paint schemes and high-visibility anticollision lights on their aircraft, Safety Recommendation A-09-3 is classified OPEN – UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 11/22/2010
Response: CC# 201000421: - From J. Randolph Babbitt, Administrator: After reviewing research on high-visibility blade paint schemes and high-visibility anticollision lights on ENG aircraft, the FAA does not believe a requirement to use these added features would significantly affect aviation safety. ENG aircraft typically operate in and around airspace where equipment requirements already include a transponder and two-way radio communications, which are critical to collision avoidance. When ENG aircraft operate in close proximity to one another over a scene, they typically announce their position over the appropriate air-to-air radio frequency and maintain situational awareness of the other ENG aircraft operating nearby. Additionally, other aircraft that operate in similar airspace to ENG aircraft are not required to be equipped with high-visibility blade paint or high-visibility anticollision lights. These include operators conducting air transport, emergency medical services, law enforcement, and traffic reporting operations. The FAA cannot justify the creation of an operating rule that applies only to a very narrow group of operators. The FAA will include recommendations in the AC for ENG operations mentioned in A-09-2 and -8 to use high-visibility blade paint schemes and high-visibility anticollision lights on ENG aircraft. I will keep the Board informed of the FAA's progress on these safety recommendations, and I will provide an update by March 2011.

From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 8/27/2009
Response: The FAA replied that it is reviewing research on high-visibility paint schemes and high-visibility lighting for helicopters to determine current best practices for ensuring enhanced visibility of ENG helicopters, and it plans to develop guidelines, based on the findings of its research, that will be incorporated into an AC for helicopter operators. The FAA anticipates issuing the AC by January 2010. In addition, the FAA reported that it plans to brief all metropolitan-area ENG helicopter operators on the best practices for enhancing ENG helicopter visibility during the FAA’s annual regional helicopter safety conferences. Although the FAA indicated that its proposed AC would include guidelines for the use of high-visibility blade paint schemes and high-visibility anticollision lights, the NTSB points out that its issuance, alone, will not satisfy the intent of the recommendation, which specifies requiring these safety measures. Pending the establishment of a requirement for ENG operators to use high-visibility blade paint schemes and high-visibility anticollision lights on their aircraft, Safety Recommendation A-09-3 is classified OPEN -- ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 4/17/2009
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 4/27/2009 2:52:43 PM MC# 2090266: - From J. Randolph Babbitt, Administrator: The FAA is reviewing research on high-visibility paint schemes and high-visibility lighting for helicopters to determine current best practices for ensuring enhanced visibility of ENG helicopters. Once an assessment has been completed, guidelines for helicopter visibility will be incorporated into an AC for helicopter operators. We anticipate publishing this AC by January 20 10. In addition to publishing the AC, ENG helicopter operators in major metropolitan areas will be briefed on the best practices for enhancing ENG helicopter visibility during annual regional helicopter safety conferences.