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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation A-09-130
Details
Synopsis: On September 27, 2008, about 2358 eastern daylight time, an Aerospatiale (Eurocopter) SA365N1, N92MD, call sign Trooper 2, registered to and operated by the Maryland State Police (MSP) as a public medical evacuation (medevac) flight, impacted terrain about 3.2 miles north of the runway 19R threshold at Andrews Air Force Base (ADW), Camp Springs, Maryland, during an instrument landing system (ILS) approach. The commercial pilot, one flight paramedic, one field provider, and one of two automobile accident patients being transported were killed. The other patient being transported survived with serious injuries from the helicopter accident and was taken to a local hospital. The helicopter was substantially damaged when it collided with trees and terrain in Walker Mill Regional Park, District Heights, Maryland. The flight originated from a landing zone at Wade Elementary School, Waldorf, Maryland, about 2337, destined for Prince George's Hospital Center (PGH), Cheverly, Maryland. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the departure; however, Trooper 2 encountered instrument meteorological conditions en route to the hospital and diverted to ADW. No flight plan was filed with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and none was required. The MSP System Communications Center (SYSCOM) was tracking the flight using global positioning system data transmitted with an experimental automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast communications (ADS-B) link.
Recommendation: TO THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: Seek specific legislative authority to regulate helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) operations conducted using government-owned aircraft to achieve safety oversight commensurate with that provided to civil HEMS operations.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Unacceptable Action
Mode: Aviation
Location: District Heights, MD, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: MIA08MA203
Accident Reports: Crash During Approach to Landing of Maryland State Police Aerospatiale SA365N1, N92MD
Report #: AAR-09-07
Accident Date: 9/27/2008
Issue Date: 11/13/2009
Date Closed: 7/29/2013
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FAA (Closed - Unacceptable Action)
Keyword(s): Federal Civilian Operations, Helicopter Emergency Medical Services, Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (Public Operators), Oversight

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 7/29/2013
Response: We continue to believe that Congress could provide the FAA with both the statutory authority and funding needed to regulate public aircraft operations, including HEMS, as recommended. However, because the FAA indicated that its actions are complete and it does not intend to seek the legislative authority to address this issue, Safety Recommendation A-09-130 is classified CLOSED—UNACCEPTABLE ACTION.

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 5/14/2013
Response: From Tony Fazio, Director, Accident Investigation and Prevention: According to its letter dated February 11, 2013, the Board remains concerned that the FAA medical rules, aircraft certification requirements, pilot certifications, aircraft maintenance requirements, and aircraft operator requirements do not apply to HEMS operations that are conducted using public aircraft, and the P AA provides no oversight, and minimal surveillance, of these operators. The Board continues to believe that Congress, if asked, could provide the FAA with both the statutory authority and funding needed to regulate these operations. However, we do not plan to seek legislative authority over such operations and, given current budgetary constraints, do not believe Congress would provide additional funding. In the current environment, we do not have the resources available to provide oversight of public aircraft operations, including HEMS. Any aircraft operated under civil regulations must comply with those regulations, even if the operator is a government entity. We carefully reconsidered our actions, and we continue to find that our response to this safety recommendation reflects the best interests of aviation safety. Accordingly, we will take no further action in direct response to this safety recommendation.

From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 2/11/2013
Response: We are disappointed that the FAA does not plan to seek legislative authority over public aircraft operations, including HEMS, as recommended. We are aware that the FAA does not currently have the authority to oversee these operations, which is why Safety Recommendation A-09-130 asks the FAA to “seek specific legislative authority.” Although the FAA indicated that it does not have the resources to oversee these operations, we believe that, if the authority to regulate these operations were granted, the FAA could reasonably request additional funding for the resources needed to conduct the oversight. We remain concerned that the FAA medical rules, aircraft certification requirements, pilot certifications, aircraft maintenance requirements, and aircraft operator requirements do not apply to HEMS operations that are conducted using public aircraft, and the FAA provides no oversight, and minimal surveillance, of these operators. Although the FAA indicated that its actions are complete, we continue to believe that Congress could provide the FAA with both the statutory authority and funding needed to regulate these operations. Therefore, we request that the FAA reconsider its position regarding this important safety issue. Pending our review of a plan that is responsive to Safety Recommendation A-09-130, the recommendation is classified OPEN—UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 10/29/2012
Response: -From Michael P. Huerta, Acting Administrator: During the Board's "Public Aircraft Oversight Forum: Ensuring Safety for Critical Missions," which occurred November 30 through December 1,2011, the FAA's Flight Standards Service stated that the FAA has neither the statutory authority nor the resources available to provide oversight of public aircraft operations (PAOs) including HEMS. Furthermore, we do not plan to seek legislative authority over such operations. Although PAOs are subject to regulations that apply to all aircraft in the National Airspace System, the government entity conducting the PAO is responsible for oversight of the operation, the aircraft and the pilots. The presence of a civil airworthiness certificate does not change the FAA's authority to provide oversight of PAOs. If an aircraft is operated under civil regulations, all civil regulations apply, even if the operator is a government entity. Related to this issue and in response to safety recommendations A-10-149 and -150 the FAA is revising guidance to clarify the responsibilities of FAA safety inspectors over PAOs for both government entities and operators under contract to government entities. Current FAA policy states that civil operators under contract to government entities are presumed to operate under civil regulations until the FAA receives a written declaration of public aircraft status provided by the sponsoring government entity. A contract with a government entity does not entitle a contractor to public aircraft status. The FAA retains oversight for those operations that are not declared PAOs or do not comply with the statute (Sect ion 40125 of Title 49 of the United States Code). I believe that the FAA has effectively addressed this recommendation and consider our act ions complete.

From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 8/12/2010
Response: The NTSB looks forward to reviewing the FAA's August 2010 update providing additional details on its plan for addressing this recommendation. Pending our review of the plan, Safety Recommendation A-09-l30 is classified OPEN – ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 3/24/2010
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 4/8/2010 6:15:31 PM MC# 2100130 - From J. Randolph Babbitt, Administrator: The Federal Aviation Administration will review Safety Recommendation A-09-130 and consider all available options to achieve a commensurate level of safety for government-owned aircraft used in HEMS operations. This review will require coordination between various FAA offices before a determination of the appropriate action can be made.