Safety Recommendation A-06-019
Details
Synopsis: On March 23, 2004, about 1918:34 central standard time, an Era Aviation Sikorsky S-76A++ helicopter, N579EH, crashed into the Gulf of Mexico about 70 nautical miles (nm) south-southeast of Scholes International Airport (GLS), Galveston, Texas. The helicopter was transporting eight oil service personnel to the Transocean, Inc., drilling ship Discoverer Spirit, which was en route to a location about 180 miles south-southeast of GLS. The captain, copilot, and eight passengers aboard the helicopter were killed, and the helicopter was destroyed by impact forces. The flight was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 on a visual flight rules flight plan. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.
Recommendation: TO THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: Require all existing and new U.S.-registered turbine-powered rotorcraft certificated for six or more passenger seats to be equipped with a terrain awareness and warning system.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Unacceptable Action
Mode: Aviation
Location: Gulf of Mexico, GM, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA04MA030
Accident Reports:
Report #: AAR-06-02
Accident Date: 3/23/2004
Issue Date: 3/24/2006
Date Closed: 9/11/2014
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FAA (Closed - Unacceptable Action)
Keyword(s): Collision Avoidance,

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 9/11/2014
Response: We are aware that, in section 135.605, the February 21, 2014, final rule requires operators to equip helicopter air ambulances with TAWS. Unfortunately, the final rule does not require operators to install TAWS on all existing and new US-registered turbine-powered rotorcraft certificated for six or more passenger seats, as recommended. Consequently, Safety Recommendation A-06-19 is classified CLOSED—UNACCEPTABLE ACTION.

From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 7/12/2012
Response: The FAA’s notice of proposed rulemaking titled “Air Ambulance and Commercial Helicopter Operations, Part 91 Helicopter Operations, and Part 135 Aircraft Operations” proposed a requirement for emergency medical service (EMS) operators to equip their aircraft with, and use, TAWS; however, we point out that Safety Recommendation A-06-19 applies to aircraft in addition to those operated solely for EMS. Accordingly, pending the FAA’s timely adoption of a requirement that fully addresses this recommendation, Safety Recommendation A-06-19 remains classified OPEN—UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 3/16/2012
Response: -From Michael P. Huerta, Acting Administrator: As we reported in our May 21, 2009, letter to the Board, we are undertaking a rulemaking effort to address this recommendation. We issued the Air Ambulance and Commercial Helicopter Operations, Part 91 Helicopter Operations, and Part 135 Aircraft Operations; Safety Initiatives and Miscellaneous Amendments Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on October 12, 2010. The comment period closed on January 10, 201 I. We have received the comments submitted by the Board and are reviewing those comments as part of the rulemaking process. We expect to publish a final rule in the Federal Register in summer 2012. The NPRM proposes to add Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) section 135.605, helicopter terrain awareness and warning system (HTAWS). This section would require that all helicopter air ambulance operations be equipped with HTAWS. I will keep the Board informed of the Federal Aviation Administration's progress on this rulemaking, and will provide an update by March 2013.

From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 6/28/2010
Response: At the NTSB’s February 18, 2010, review of its List of Most Wanted Transportation Safety Improvements issued to federal agencies, the NTSB discussed Safety Recommendation A-06-15, which is included on the list. That recommendation asks the FAA to require all emergency medical services (EMS) operators to install TAWS on their aircraft and to provide adequate training to ensure that flight crews are capable of using the systems to safely conduct EMS operations. The Board indicated that inclusion of a requirement for helicopter TAWS in the FAA’s developing notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) was a responsive action but was concerned about the time required to develop and issue this requirement. Accordingly, the Board voted to retain the classification of OPEN -- UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE for Safety Recommendation A-06-15 pending adoption of a requirement that all EMS operators equip their aircraft with and use TAWS. Although Safety Recommendation A-06-19 applies to aircraft in addition to those operated solely for EMS, it also asks the FAA to require the installation of TAWS, which the FAA has not yet done. Accordingly, Safety Recommendation A-06-19 is classified Open Unacceptable Response pending the FAA’s timely adoption of a requirement that all existing and new U.S.-registered turbine-powered rotorcraft, certificated for six or more passenger seats, are equipped with and use TAWS.

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 5/21/2009
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 6/2/2009 4:13:10 PM MC# 2090345: - From Lynne A. Osmus, Acting Administrator: The FAA issued Technical Standard Order (TSO) C194 for a Helicopter Terrain Awareness and Warning System (HTAWS) (enclosed) on December 17, 2008. TSO-C 194 provides manufacturers with the minimum performance standards HTAWS must meet to receive FAA approval and identification with the applicable TSO marking. Rulemaking is now underway to address this recommendation. We plan to complete work on a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) in January 2010. Publication of the NPRM will occur after clearance from the Department of Transportation and the Office of Management and Budget. I will keep you informed of the progress on the rulemaking effort supporting this recommendation.

From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 4/12/2007
Response: The Safety Board notes that the FAA plans to evaluate TAWS equipment currently available for rotorcraft to determine whether it is suitable for installation as recommended. The FAA indicates that if its evaluation reveals that currently available equipment is suitable, it will consider rulemaking to mandate installation. While we understand that the FAA needs to conduct the evaluation as part of any planned rulemaking on this subject, the Board believes that TAWS equipment suitable for installation in rotorcraft is already available. In its investigation of the March 23, 2004, Era Aviation accident, the Board concluded that if TAWS had been installed aboard the accident helicopter, the system’s aural and visual warnings should have provided the flight crew with ample time to recognize that the helicopter was descending toward the water, initiate the necessary corrective actions, and recover from the descent, avoiding the accident. Pending the FAA’s instituting a requirement for the installation of TAWS in all new and existing turbine powered rotorcraft certificated for six or more passenger seats, Safety Recommendation A-06-19 is classified OPEN -- ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 7/7/2006
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 7/17/2006 4:17:14 PM MC# 2060341: - From Marion C. Blakey, Administrator: The Federal Aviation Administration plans to evaluate the terrain awareness and warning system (TAWS) equipment currently fielded to determine if it is suitable for installation on U.S.-registered turbine-powered rotorcraft certificated for six or more passenger seats. The FAA needs to verify that the current equipment is well suited for helicopter applications and appropriate to the flight regime. Equipment must have a low incidence of "false" or "nuisancell alarms which, if present, detract from the overall safety benefit of the equipment when installed in helicopters. If current equipment is deemed fully suitable, the FAA will consider rulemaking to mandate installation. I will keep the Board informed of the FAA's progress on this safety recommendation.