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General Aviation Safety
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.
TO THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: On the basis of the safety issues identified at the regional conferences discussed in Safety Recommendation A-09-06, develop letters of agreement (LOAs) or amend existing LOAs to specify minimum horizontal and vertical aircraft separation requirements.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Closed - Acceptable Alternate Action
Phoenix, AZ, United States
Midair Collision of Electronic News Gathering Helicopters KTVK-TV, Eurocopter AS350B2, N613TV, and U.S. Helicopters, Inc., Eurocopter AS350B2, N215TV
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
FAA (Closed - Acceptable Alternate Action)
Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (Public Operators)
Safety Recommendation History
We believe that, because the Helicopter Association International safety manual encourages operators to determine minimum horizontal and vertical aircraft separation distances by protocols established at local coordination meetings, and because this is currently achieved through regularly scheduled, regional helicopter safety conferences, the recommendation has been satisfied in an acceptable alternate manner. Accordingly, Safety Recommendation A-09-7 is classified CLOSED—ACCEPTABLE ALTERNATE ACTION.
-From Michael P. Huerta, Administrator: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recogni zes the importance of taking proactive measures to maintain safety throughout the National Airspace System (NAS). Accordingly, the FAA Safety Team and the FAA's Air Traffic Organization participate in combined monthly regional helicopter conferences with Helicopter Association International (HAI), as well as the Annual National Helicopter Conference. During these conferences, we maintain an active role through presentations, briefings. and gathering of data on all helicopter operations within the NAS. This collaborative effort is a result of Recommendation A-09-6. As mentioned in our response dated April 17, 2009, following these conferences, we would establish a team to develop or amend LOAs, as needed. While no specific LOAs exist for Electronic Newsgathering (ENG) helicopter operations, we received feedback from these regional conferences that writing an LOA is not needed to address the safety issues identified at the conferences. Air traffic control (ATC) personnel, helicopter pilots, and companies did not feel the need for additional LOA5, or changes to current LOAs. Our meeting with the ENG National Committee also substantiated this position. The feedback affirmed that current procedures and policies serve the needs of both ATC and industry safety. Additionally, the HAI Safety Manual addresses ENG safety procedures and recommendations. Of all helicopter operators, the ENG industry has the lowest accident rate by industry type and the second lowest by activity type. In addition, the FAA performed an exhaustive review of helicopter related events within the Air Traffic Safety Action Program and Quality Assurance Quality Control databases from 2009 to the present. This analysis did not reveal any further operational safety events involving ENG helicopters. These findings provide further proof that the development of LOAs establishing additional separation requirements is unnecessary. Upon further evaluation of this safety recommendation, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) finds that proper procedures are in place for safe helicopter operations. Based upon feedback from the helicopter community, existing regulations and current separation standards found in FAA Order 7110.65. Air Traffic Control, provide sufficient guidance. We believe the FAA has effectively addressed this safety recommendation and consider our actions complete.
The FAA indicated that the helicopter safety conferences planned for the major metropolitan regions will offer meetings for both helicopter operators and representatives from the appropriate air traffic control facilities. The NTSB notes that, once the conferences are complete, the FAA intends to establish a team that will develop or amend LOAs as needed to reflect the operational and safety issues that were identified at each of the regional conferences and to incorporate minimum operational safety standards that pertain to each region. Accordingly, pending the FAA’s development of LOAs, or amendment of existing LOAs, to specify minimum horizontal and vertical aircraft separation requirements, Safety Recommendation A-09-7 is classified OPEN -- ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.
Letter Mail Controlled 4/27/2009 2:52:43 PM MC# 2090266: - From J. Randolph Babbitt, Administrator: The FAA is coordinating with HA1 and the NEHA to develop a schedule of helicopter safety conferences for major metropolitan regions, prioritized by operational risk, In addition to helicopter operators attending these meetings, representatives from the appropriate air traffic control facilities will also attend the meetings. Following the helicopter safety conferences, a team will be established to develop or amend an LOA, as needed, to reflect operational and safety issues identified at the conferences and for incorporating minimum operational safety standards pertaining to each region in the LOAs.
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