Jump to content

A First?


BOATFIXERGUY
 Share

Recommended Posts

So I'm browsing the pilot job listings on JSFirm and this one catches my eye:

 

http://www.jsfirm.com/companydetail.asp?jobid=16186

 

Titled: Helicopter Pilots Needed ASAP

 

If you look at the ads for RW Pilots on the various web sites, there are shortages at all of the EMS providers and the oil industry. Has the industry made that turn to a serious shortage of pilots?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So I'm browsing the pilot job listings on JSFirm and this one catches my eye:

 

http://www.jsfirm.com/companydetail.asp?jobid=16186

 

Titled: Helicopter Pilots Needed ASAP

 

If you look at the ads for RW Pilots on the various web sites, there are shortages at all of the EMS providers and the oil industry. Has the industry made that turn to a serious shortage of pilots?

 

 

If so, hold on boys! I'm still trying to work my way to 1000!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not sure what you're refering to as "A First" here. Am I missing something?? These ADs are a dime a dozen.

 

 

The pilot shortage has never been about getting people with less experience into jobs that they would previously been excluded from. Its been a lack of experienced pilots whom are not already employed that has been a problem for operators. What gets little attention though is the fact that a pilot moving up in the food chain to fill a vacancy like this opens a pilot slot up in the GOM or tours which open up a slot with them for a 1000hr CFI to fill which will open up a slot for a 200 hr greenhorn to fill. The 'pilot shortage' keeps the food chain moving which is why I get sick of people saying that it is a myth...the people saying it are usually the 200hr greenhorn but the fact that there is a job for him at all is a testament to the fact that there is a shortage.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not sure what you're refering to as "A First" here. Am I missing something?? These ADs are a dime a dozen.

 

 

The pilot shortage has never been about getting people with less experience into jobs that they would previously been excluded from. Its been a lack of experienced pilots whom are not already employed that has been a problem for operators. What gets little attention though is the fact that a pilot moving up in the food chain to fill a vacancy like this opens a pilot slot up in the GOM or tours which open up a slot with them for a 1000hr CFI to fill which will open up a slot for a 200 hr greenhorn to fill. The 'pilot shortage' keeps the food chain moving which is why I get sick of people saying that it is a myth...the people saying it are usually the 200hr greenhorn but the fact that there is a job for him at all is a testament to the fact that there is a shortage.

 

 

Nicely put.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not sure what you're refering to as "A First" here. Am I missing something?? These ADs are a dime a dozen.

 

 

The pilot shortage has never been about getting people with less experience into jobs that they would previously been excluded from. Its been a lack of experienced pilots whom are not already employed that has been a problem for operators. What gets little attention though is the fact that a pilot moving up in the food chain to fill a vacancy like this opens a pilot slot up in the GOM or tours which open up a slot with them for a 1000hr CFI to fill which will open up a slot for a 200 hr greenhorn to fill. The 'pilot shortage' keeps the food chain moving which is why I get sick of people saying that it is a myth...the people saying it are usually the 200hr greenhorn but the fact that there is a job for him at all is a testament to the fact that there is a shortage.

 

Very nicely put indeed.

 

What I'm referring to as a possible first is that it is unusual for an EMS company such as EagleMed to generate an employment listing as needed "ASAP." Agree?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ads are ads, and anything that can get people to notice them can be helpful.

 

There is a shortage of experienced pilots, but that doesn't mean the standards are going down to new commercial pilots. My base has been short a pilot for awhile, mostly because the last 3 pilots hired for the job either were terminated in training or quit for another job before arriving. We're short pilots, but I hope we aren't going to hire any who don't have the experience just because of that. We owe it to the med crews and to the patients. We're already killing far too many of them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please dont make me blush - I just call it as I see it. ;)

 

Oh, I see what your saying now. Prolly just an HR scheme to get more applications in the pile- If they were REALLY in need of applicants ASAP they'd offer a salary at least slightly above the industry standard. 55-65K isnt going to turn all that many heads, but I will say the working/living conditions are undoubtedly better than the swamps around the GOM.

 

While I'm in a ranting mood- 55-65K is a rediculous ammount of money for the responsibility and training ventured. Rediculously paltry. Not sure thats a can of worms that anyone wants opened though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

....... We're short pilots, but I hope we aren't going to hire any who don't have the experience just because of that. We owe it to the med crews and to the patients. We're already killing far too many of them.

 

Hey Gomer, I dont have my ear on the EMS grapevine and dont really have any statistical evidence but I dont recall any of the recent rash of EMS accidents having 'inexperience' as a factor. I think the argument could be made in the other direction that overconfidence and complacency are significant factors. Especially considering the accidents involving weather, which seems to be the majority of them- we're all encouraged to develop personal minimums. Should we allow the confidence that comes with 15,000 incident free flight hours or operational pressures to influence us into lowering them? Would an 'inexperienced' pilot have accepted the accident missions? Food for thought. I am in no way arguing that standars should or have been lowered though.

 

I know nobody asked but IMHO single pilot IFR night flying is suicidal and I cant believe its still allowed after all these accidents.

 

I'd like to hear someone like you speak on why you think these accidents are occuring.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not sure why they're occurring, but I do know that putting inexperienced pilots in the cockpits isn't going to solve the problem. My point wasn't that inexperience is causing the accidents, just that if experienced pilots are crashing, then inexperienced ones would likely crash even more often. We have to slow it down somehow, but these things often happen in clusters.

 

I'm wondering why you feel night IFR is so dangerous. I've done a lot of it, and feel it's safer than night VFR. The aircraft doesn't care where the sun is, and the procedures are the same day or night. SPIFR is demanding at any time, and you have to be both experienced and proficient in IFR procedures to do it.

 

As for the salary, that's pretty typical. There are always pilots willing to fly for peanuts, and the only thing that will raise salaries is pilots refusing to work for those wages. Companies will never pay more than they have to for labor. Universal unionization is about the only thing I can think of that will raise salaries. I'm not holding my breath.

Edited by Gomer Pylot
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree on all points. I just think SPIFR is unneccessarily risky based on the evidence I see through reading accident reports. If you have a hiccup things can go pear shaped in a hurry. Take the recent MD trooper one- I know the report isnt out yet and Im hypothesizing- but it sounded from the tapes that he had an HSI or or other instrument failure, lost his bearings, developed SD and ended up in a bad place. Would a second pilot have helped prevent it? I dont know but it seems like it.

 

Heres an idea- maybe we really arent worth as much as we like to think we are :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Did someone say we should put inexperienced pilots in the EMS cockpits? IFR or VFR, night

flying adds additional risk to an already relatively dangerous job. I don't think it's argueable

that EMS is the riskiest of helicopter jobs. Two pilots at night is my solution. I already know it

won't happen. But I think that is the answer.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'll add my two cents, but with a different spin: Are the spike in accidents due to loss of proficiency and/or pressure from management to make the flight? Single pilot IFR is more risky but you haven't seen a rash of accidents by FW cargo pilots flying at night. FedEx, etc. use smaller FW aircraft for deliviering cargo and cancelled checks. Looks at ads or blogs and they are frequently flying single pilot and almost always at night. I don't want to debate the difference in risk, etc. between FW and RW. EMS pilots have some of the highest experience requirements in the industry, but all pilots need practice (through actual flying or in a simulator) to stay proficient. Why do you think airline pilots have to go through simulator training yearly?

 

Here's a scenario for you - an RW pilot with several thousand hours gets hired to fly EMS. In previous jobs, he was flying every day for the majority of the day (say 100+ hrs. per month). Because of this, he was very proficient. In his new job, he only flies a couple of hours every couple of weeks (say 10 hrs. per month). While he came into the job at a high level of proficiency, his skills begin to atrophy over time. After a while, he isn't nearly as proficient as he was when he started. His knowledge and experience continues to grow, but his proficiency declines.

 

I saw this first hand when training for my FW Instrument rating. By the time I took the checkride, I was very proficient at flying under the hood because I had been doing it 2-3 times per week. Six months after completing my checkride, I could already see a loss of proficiency because I was only flying approaches occasionally to maintain my FAA currency. Could I have flown an approach safely under real instrument conditions? I think so, but I wouldn't have done as well as when I did my checkride, and add to that other negative factors like fatigue, cockpit distractions, an unfamiliar approach, etc., the outcome could have been less than optimal.

 

Does the EMS industry need to require/allow for proficiency training for their pilots that is over and above FAA minimums? I'm thinking in terms of a minimum # of hours flown per week or month, a minimum number of instrument approaches, a minimum number of off-airport landings, a minimum number of practice auto rotations, etc. Would this lead to a reduction in accidents? I don't know, but it is food for thought. For the record, I am not an EMS pilot and not (yet) an RW pilot. However, I am analytical by nature and have a tendency to always try to figure out how to do things better/safer/etc. Comments?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are several things I'd like to see. However, before I get into that I would like to point one thing out.

 

The recent accidents, EMS, non EMS alike have mostly been involved with more experienced pilots. Why is that? One big thing that comes to mind is complacency. As time goes by we get more and more comfortable with our abilites as a pilot and not keeping that in check can lead to some bad decisions being made.

 

Second, lower time pilots tend to be more conservitive. Why? Well, they are new to that particular part of the industry. perhaps, they haven't done much EMS, long line and so on. They tend to err on the side of caution much more so as a result.

 

Now, one of the things I'd like to see industry wide not just in EMS would be as follows. More training. Not just the minimums required right now. I would like to see training, both flight and ground every quarter.

 

Flight training, this should be taylored to the type of job that pilot conducts. In other words, do you fly in a SPIFR program? Then time should be spent every 3 months on IFR training and procedures. With a greater degree placed on IIMC procedures for both IFR and VFR pilots. This of course in addition to normal and emergency procedures. Simulator training should also be utilized more offten.

 

Ground training needs to stress several things. Aviation Decision Making being one of the top things. We need to really sit down and identify the thought processes that led up to these accidents. Identify the chain of events and where that chain could have been broken. Was there any perceived pressures? More training on weather factors and local weather patterns should be reviewed.

 

I would love to see a form of TIS or TCAS. Along with some for of ground warning system. I have a G530 which will give me ground alerts which can be backed up with my radar altimeter. Of course a true GPWS would be nice but this works. NVG's as well. That is a slow process which most companies seem to be working on. Of course all of these things are just tools to reduce pilot work load. This isn't meant to be in place of basic piloting and decision making.

 

Many may argue that this training and equipment would be costly. Yes, it will cost the companies more money. Where will that money come from? Perhaps the insurance companies? With such training practices in place I am sure companies could see a reduction in insurance costs. Also, less accidents overall which would lead to lower insurance and lawsuits.

 

This is just my $.02.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have a question, as someone who's still in training and will hopefully be flying "for real" out there. One of the posters mentioned recurring simulator training and how FW pilots use it to keep current. Are there simulators for RW that are good enough to keep your proficiency up?

 

FW craft, especially the ones used as IFR platforms tend to be very stable (I have my FW pilot and 3 hours under the hood is required for that) - you can trim out a Cessna and fly with only the rudder pedals for extended periods of time. The Robbies I used for my RW IFR ticket, on the other hand, require constant attention. After finishing my RW IFR, I can easily imagine going back for my FW IFR and having all the time in the world to go over the arrival and approach plates, maybe double check my choice of alternates, ooops - need to adjust the rudder a bit, maybe the RNAV approach would be a better choice for the direction of our arrival, I'll call up and get an amended clearance, back a little on the throttle, etc etc. This sort of thing isn't hard to simulate, especially in the big full-motion simulators.

 

My only experience with *any* sort of sim is the MS Flight Simulator (don't laugh too loudly, I have an ex who's father is an airline captain and he uses MSFS to stay current on the routes he flies), and their RW flight models aren't very realistic at all.... are there "real" simulators that do better? Enough to keep pilots current, even if they aren't actually in the air?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

MSFS may help in respect to getting familiar with IFR routes and very basic procedures. However, to answer your other question there are simulators out there designed for helicopter pilots much like the ones used by the airlines. Flight Safety has several different ones. Mostly for the larger twin IFR helicopters though not the light singles.

 

 

The two pilot(PIC,SIC) debate has gone on for years. The main problem is the weight limitations of the aircraft. I fly the A119 and sometimes I can take another passenger but sometimes I can't. Due to things like crew weight and fuel. It's not going to happen for those flying the Astar or the B206 helicopters for EMS. In order to comply with the two pilot requirement if one was put out, would be to fly a larger helicopter. Maybe the EC135 or EC145, B230/430 and S76 might be able to do that. That is big $$. I am not saying I don't agree, just that it most likely won't happen.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 people killed in a day light mid-air crash, in, or very near an airport traffic area;

3 crew die in what appears to have been a structural failure, also in day light- these are very unusual occurrences. They're no less of concern because of their exceptional nature.

Next, 4 fatalities colliding with a tower that, from what I hear, was a known en route hazard. To me, also unusual- except that most wire strikes occur with known obstacles.

 

Then, Texas PHI, Wisconsin Air Methods, and Maryland State Police accidents, 11 lives lost. These fit the stereotype EMS night and weather crashes, except that I think we're missing the forest for the trees in our analysis. These aren't as easily classified as 'night VFR into IMC': The PHI pilot was an IFR captain in the Gulf for years. He never struck me as a 'cowboy'; the MSP's Trooper 2 seemed to be doing the right things when the flight came to grief; and, while I know very little about the Wisconsin crash, except that it was an Air Methods EC 135. That airframe is often employed in my company as SPIFR platforms. I don't know if it was an IFR program.

Night and day; single and twin; VMC and IMC; VFR and IFR platforms- potentially the common element is the human factor. That's the issue that needs to be addressed.

 

Pretending that EMS is just an on-demand charter is short-sighted. I've seen experienced military and civilian pilots, new to EMS, absolutely paralyzed, or worse- making STUPID decisions in response to issues that should have been no-brainers in the proper context. In EMS we have an aviation decision to make, but a responsibility to the patient that over rides all when evaluating a flight- I have to know with reasonable certainty that at the very least, I will get the patient the receiving facility without undue hazard- or I'm not doing the job I was hired for, period.

When I have doubts, I have no doubts, and no option but to decline. I shouldn't need a risk assessment matrix or operational control center to know that the proposed flight is not certain- the facts speak for themselves. Muddling the decision allows more flights and more revenue, but those things dilute responsibility. EMS is not combat, there are options besides accepting dispatch, or proceeding into unfavorable circumstances. Risking 4 to possibly help 1 is very bad math. There's no such thing as “taking a look” or “giving it a shot”, those are excuses for poor decision making.

 

This job is weather checking and predicting - what will the weather be over the whole route in 3, 4 or 6 hours?

The job requires rational aircraft evaluation- no autopilot, no demister (or air conditioner), no windshield wiper, and can this pig carry the load where we're going? Can I get fuel, and where?

EMS is also fundamentally a self-capability appraisal job, with the goal of declining flights. That's the toughest part of the job.

All, in 5 minutes or less. An EMS pilot may never hear yay or nay regarding dispatch time, but it is being tracked, management cares...

I have six com radios, 2 datalinks, 2 nav/com VHF/GPS systems, and a satellite phone to manage, in the fleet standard ship. The fleet standard, isn't.

Not to mention the usual aviation challenges of making a new plan on the fly, dealing with traffic, etc.

 

 

Next, we in EMS do the hardest part of our job when we're at our worst, as a sweeping generalization speaking- most programs swap mid-hitch, day to night duty, with a 24 hour break between day and night shifts. Circadian rhythm, sleep patterns and rest, all are supposedly covered by the umbrella regulatory requirement for “10 hours of uninterrupted rest”.

Pilots are not blameless in this, I've heard professional pilots say bald-faced that they had plans for the day between two night hitches that meant they wouldn't be sleeping. I've heard of relief pilots reporting for night duty with the plan to sleep because they hadn't done so that day.

NVGs are slowly coming to the fleet. With aided vision, a pilot can see and avoid, almost as well as on a day flight. Right now, at typical unaided night visual acuity ranging from 20/200 to 20/400, we see by using counter-intuitive techniques and crappy lighting. Often, we don't see issues at all until we're in the cloud, hit the hill or the tower...

 

So the average EMS pilot is often blind, stupid from 'jet lag' (or whatever you want to call it) and rushed. It's not “why we have so many accidents at night”, it's why don't we have more...

 

No, this isn't a job for an FNG. Yes, there is a shortage of pilots ready for the job.

Edited by Wally
Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I have doubts, I have no doubts, and no option but to decline. I shouldn't need a risk assessment matrix or operational control center to know that the proposed flight is not certain- the facts speak for themselves. Muddling the decision allows more flights and more revenue, but those things dilute responsibility. EMS is not combat, there are options besides accepting dispatch, or proceeding into unfavorable circumstances. Risking 4 to possibly help 1 is very bad math. There's no such thing as “taking a look” or “giving it a shot”, those are excuses for poor decision making.

 

Very well said.

 

If an EMS pilot can apply this kind of filter to their decision making, despite the life-and-death nature of what they do, then perhaps the rest of us could require ourselves to apply more responsible ADM.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

One major difference between EMS and FW cargo is that the FW always flies between well-lit airport runways, with instrument approaches available, and VASI or better systems always available at the destination. There are no obstructions around the runways. EMS scene flights are to unprepared locations, with no lighting other than distracting flashing lights from emergency vehicles, no approach aids, and obstructions everywhere. Given a reasonable suite of avionics, the night cargo flight is a piece of cake, and the pilot only has to push buttons, and flare at touchdown. The night EMS scene flight requires absolute concentration and proficiency. Comparing the two is worse than comparing apples and oranges.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...