On March 28th, the National Transportation Safety Board adopted a final report on the crash of a medical helicopter at Summit Medical Center, Frisco, CO. Of the number of recommendations from the NTSB, ACCT was asked to take lead in developing a process to better inform purchasers of medical helicopters and the aviation and clinical crews staffing the helicopters of the safety engineering profiles of the aircraft.
The NTSB specifically identified in its findings the lack of clear information about which standards aircraft with long-established type certificates meet, as well as challenges among customers' and end-users' awareness and understanding of relevant and applicable safety engineering standards. As an example, the aircraft in the Frisco crash was relatively new -- built in 2013 -- the applicable standards the aircraft was required to meet for fuel tank and seating crashworthiness were circa 1977.
The NTSB is trying to accelerate change to a higher level of safety, recognizing that regulation is a slow process. By going outside of their normal recommendation pathways to have ACCT engage the air medical community, a more transparent, market-driven approach to incorporating higher levels of safety engineering might emerge. A secondary recommendation requested AAMS and AMOA to support the ACCT-led project.
After review and acceptance of the recommendation by the ACCT Board, ACCT invited John DeLisi, Director Office of Aviation Safety; Kristin Poland, Ph.D., Senior Biomechanical Engineer; Jeff Marcus, Transportation Safety Specialist, Office of Safety Recommendations and Communications; and Chihoon (Chich) Shin, Aerospace Engineer, Office of Aviation Safety; to provide a briefing of the NTSB findings and the goals of the recommendation to ACCT on the 25th of April in concert with our congressional briefings.
After the briefing, the NTSB A-17-012 Safety Recommendations Steering Committee (SRSC) held its first meeting on 26 April in Washington DC . The Steering Committee formalized its objectives:
- develop a problem statement, project work plan, and timeline
- apply collaborative and consensual methodologies to garner input from stakeholders in the aviation and air medical communities including developing stakeholder and technical advisory panels for the project
- develop iterative pathways to receive input from the general air medical community constituents and transmit work product during the process,
- develop and publish recommended purchasing guidelines for structural air frame, safety engineered standards, safety equipment, safety technologies, and standards for the acquisition of helicopters. These guidelines will allow purchasers to develop methodologies for in request for proposals incorporating a risk matrix for available safety standards; and
- regularly update the NTSB on process and progress.
- Develop methodology to extend the work to medical airplanes and ground ambulances
The ACCT Board developed a Steering Committee in conjunction with AAMS and AMOA comprised of Thomas Judge (ACCT Chair), Greg Hildenbrand (ACCT), Robbie Tester (ACCT), Chris Eastlee (AAMS), and Ed Stockhausen (AMOA). Christine Zalar will provide senior staff support and management services as needed to the committee.
Serving as ex-officio to the committee: Frank Erdman, Chair of ACCT and Edward Eroe who will be responsible to manage all external communications regarding the committee's work.
- The committee’s Terms of Reference were reviewed and updated for committee final approval at the next meeting and then distribution to the NTSB and the three associations.
- The statement of the problem. An initial white paper framing the issues is in draft within the committee, and will be released to the associations in late May. This is the first step in the work plan.
- Meeting schedule and process to reach out to stakeholders and technical experts will follow the white paper.