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EMS ship down Tucson


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Just heard this on the car radio; its on the VR sidebar link from AP now. Only one fatality (first report), and no ground victims thank goodness. If anyone here knows them and needs anything, just 'call'. I always cringe hearing witness accounts of rotors stopped, enforcing public ill-conception/perception about glides, and am reminded of my COM DPE Mr. Hooper explaining why he does checkrides: FOR THE AUTOS. Since otherwise he may only practice EP's once per year (Phx ENG). Has this not changed? RIP

Edited by azbirdman
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New reports indicate that Air Methods released a statement that all 3 aboard the AS350 were killed.

 

http://azstarnet.com/news/local/crime/article_efea00a2-9a89-11df-83de-001cc4c002e0.html

 

Bad week for EMS.

 

Oh man, this is way bad. You can see the wires I'm sure the pilot was dodging..RIP to all.

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The event is certainly sad, but it does highlight the worthlessness of eyewitness accounts. The 'eyewitness' quoted in the paper said "the helicopter's rotors stopped working and it started plummeting toward the ground." He then said that the pilot turned the helicopter away from the house. Those actions are mutually exclusive. He obviously has no idea what he's talking about, and it is, unfortunately, very common for such people to be quoted widely on TV and in the newspapers. RIP to the crew, and FU to the 'eyewitness'.

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Unless you mean free umbrellas (Gomer's "FU"), that is strictly uncalled for, both as an ambassador of aviation to the public and as an example to future aviators. A layperson need not know how to operate an Astar to know what they saw; stopped working may mean blades visible (well below normal RPM) versus not, and whether it turned or was turned matters little to the homeowner saved. Since the pilot is deceased you cannot ask him if cyclic or TR authority remained. Rx: one chill pill.

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. A layperson need not know how to operate an Astar to know what they saw; stopped working may mean blades visible (well below normal RPM) versus not

 

No- humans are highly unreliable as eyewitnesses, especially if the event in question is short, quick and surprising.

Just ask anyone who was ever involved into something comparatively simple like a car crash investigation. People "remember" (...and are "absolutely sure" about...) all sorts of things that never happened, not with malicious intent but simply because of the way our brains work.

 

Watch this video for example:

 

Accident investigators know this, of course, and can test the reliability of an eyewitness with simple questions ("So the rotor was stopped or turning very slow? How many rotor blades did you see?").

Unfortunately, the reporters that print these articles fail to do the same.

Edited by lelebebbel
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While witnesses are notoriously unreliable, they can still be used to help assess what happened. The only key is that their statements need to be viewed with suspicion until corroborated by other accounts.

 

I took a aircraft accident investigation class, and one of the classes involved us watching a long boring video of an aircraft performing at an airshow. Five minutes in, the professor (who was sitting in the back), coughed loudly and knocked a chair over. Of course everyone in the room looked at him, and when we looked back at the screen, the aircraft was falling down with both wings separated. Without talking to each other, we all wrote an eyewitness account detailing exactly what we saw, and some of the differences were pretty amazing. Memories can do funny things when filtered by our perceptions and imagination.

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No? What question is this supposed to answer? The one from my OP, finally? I'm not interested in journalists (if it bleeds it reads) or psychologists, only aviation and safety. And the Golden Rule (not hurling insults/expletives at members, pilots, the public, or witnesses human or animal hehe) So, for round two- ENG/EMS/GOM/LE operators: how often do you practice EP's in the service aircraft, please?

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Most if not all companies practice only on an annual basis. I do my 135 ride each year and don't get to practice any autorotations or any other EP's during the year. My company has said they intend to do training every 6 months but that has yet to and proably will not happen.

 

I know not if additional training durring the year would have helped this pilot or not. However, at the least it could raise awareness and increase proficency.

 

This is what I want, 1 hour flight and ground training a quarter.

 

JD

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Emergency procedures are practiced only with a company instructor or check airman onboard. That's the universal rule. I know of one pilot who decided to do some on his own, and his wife ended up searching the area for the few pieces of him that were still missing after the recovery. If you're flying Part 135, you don't do emergency procedures on your own, especially anything that involves reducing the throttle. As soon as the boss finds out you did, and he will eventually, you'll be looking for another job very quickly.

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Just heard this on the car radio; its on the VR sidebar link from AP now. Only one fatality (first report), and no ground victims thank goodness. If anyone here knows them and needs anything, just 'call'. I always cringe hearing witness accounts of rotors stopped, enforcing public ill-conception/perception about glides, and am reminded of my COM DPE Mr. Hooper explaining why he does checkrides: FOR THE AUTOS. Since otherwise he may only practice EP's once per year (Phx ENG). Has this not changed? RIP

 

RIP to some true heroes!

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Yes, of course not on your own (esp. not your A/C). I just hate hearing years of harumph on safety, followed by no apparent change in proficiency training or frequency. Is it not a false economy to skimp on a preventive measure or MTX vs. an aircraft's total loss even without career ending injuries or possible fatalities? Just as the U.S. lagging and lacking in driver training (one of my areas) results in 42K deaths every year! Even my FW-CFI friend wrote her Embry master's thesis on EMS-H issues, so I like to keep an ear on it as a multi-faceted educator. I too like the quarterly idea/standard as a minimum, and hope it can be adopted industry-wide. Thx guys.

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I too like the quarterly idea/standard as a minimum, and hope it can be adopted industry-wide. Thx guys.

Ain't gonna happen. Money talks. It might be possible with a few very small companies, but large companies, with close to 100 bases, just can't do it, and the pilots definitely don't want to travel hundreds or thousands of miles every quarter for a few minutes of training. It's bad enough once a year, nevermind 4 times as much. Putting the training out in the field would be nice, but that requires more helicopters devoted to training, and more instructor/check pilots, scattered all over the country. It will not happen.

 

EMS is, and always will be, an old man's (or woman's, but I've met very few old women pilots) game. You need a lot of experience to be able to fly in the required conditions and maintain proficiency while flying only a few hours per month. It's expensive to operate a helicopter, and training flying eats up profits very quickly. Simulators help a little, but only a little. The ones available just aren't that sophisticated or realistic, and just help with procedures, not actual flying. More training just isn't going to be possible, and the experience level of new hires keeps declining. It's a downward spiral any way you look at it, but then this is the United States, and capitalism is the religion, which will never go away. If the government (federal and state) took over EMS the way it should, there would be less competition, less pressure to make profits, and safety would be greatly enhanced. Again, ain't gonna happen. Here in the land of the brave, we practice the golden rule - them that have the gold make the rules. Things will not be changing in my lifetime.

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Gomer, even the highest time pilots are having accidents. I have to say I don't think it's to much flight time related. EMS is just a whole different animal when it comes to flying. If there is a will for companies to invest in training there there is a way. Large part 121 operators do it. Perhaps we don't need to do it quarterly but at a minimum every six months.

 

JD

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Yes, I know even high-time pilots have accidents. There is no doubt about that, but having years of experience does help, and I don't think there is much doubt about that. It's certainly not a cure-all, but it helps. I would love to be able to do emergency procedures in the aircraft regularly, but that would take many more aircraft and instructors. Right now the company can barely take care of annual recurrent training, nevermind 2 or 4 times as much training, and the pilots would revolt at having to drive two days for one hour of training. For me, it's a 12 hour drive to headquarters, and 12 hours back, and I'm certainly not the furthest away.

 

It's an economic issue, and companies will continue to gamble that they will lose less money by doing less training. The FAA only requires annual training, and that's pretty much what you can expect from almost all companies. I'm not saying I like it, I'm just saying that's the way it is.

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That is exatly what I am saying. All of our aircraft have a set of dual controls. We are in the process of training more company instructors. Each base will use the base aircraft after the mech. has installed the duals and go out for a training flight. Right now it looks that this will be done not quarterly but on a 6 month basis. The out of service time would be just an hour and a half but well worth it.

 

JD

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This event sent chills down my spine- the pilot's my age and experience, almost the same aircraft (B3 vs B2), etc. And my guess- without any neutral, unbiased authenticated facts, purely on the media- is that something very bad suddenly happened in cruise, an unrecoverable and catastrophic failure. It doesn't matter who you are, if, and when that 1 in a billion happens. High time or low, first time or tens of thousands, if that catastrophe, that "golden bb" has your name on it, it's yours. If my hunch is right and that's what happened, I take comfort in the exceptionality of it.

If, as is more likely, human error is a cause, I admit that experience doesn't prevent mistakes. Old guys screw the pooch, too. Do this long enough, and you have more exposure than somebody just starting, so you do see pilots with decades and tens of thousands of hours in the reports. If you're human and working, you're going to make mistakes, accept that. All you can definitely, for sure do is be diligent in your efforts to avoid the big one, try to make small mistakes the only ones likely.

I hope the investigation into this one yields some quick info...

 

My employer does semi-annual training in addition to the required annual. It's valuable but very risk adverse, and as much as the bureaucracy can do, cash and asset-wise. Until there is a national trauma system and support, that's about the best I can see.

Edited by Wally
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