You may be trying to access this site from a secured browser on the server. Please enable scripts and reload this page.
Turn on more accessible mode
Turn off more accessible mode
Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Top Link Bar
NEWS & EVENTS
Speeches & Testimony
Most Wanted List
The Investigative Process
Data & Stats
General Aviation Safety
Administrative Law Judges
Strategic Plans & Reports
Safety Recommendation Details
The Investigative Process
Data & Stats
General Aviation Safety
On March 30, 2013, at 2320 Alaska daylight time, a Eurocopter AS350 B3 helicopter, N911AA, impacted terrain while maneuvering during a search and rescue (SAR) flight near Talkeetna, Alaska. The airline transport pilot, an Alaska state trooper serving as a flight observer for the pilot, and a stranded snowmobiler who had requested rescue were killed, and the helicopter was destroyed by impact and postcrash fire. The helicopter was registered to and operated by the Alaska Department of Public Safety (DPS) as a public aircraft operations flight under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) prevailed in the area at the time of the accident. The flight originated at 2313 from a frozen pond near the snowmobiler’s rescue location and was destined for an off-airport location about 16 mi south.
TO THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: Work with operators, training providers, and industry groups to evaluate the effectiveness of current training programs for helicopter pilots in inadvertent instrument meteorological conditions, and develop and publish best practices for such training.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Closed - Unacceptable Action
Talkeetna, AK, United States
Crash Following Encounter with Instrument Meteorological Conditions After Departure from Remote Landing Site Alaska Department of Public Safety Eurocopter AS350 B3, N911AA
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
FAA (Closed - Unacceptable Action)
Safety Recommendation History
You wrote that, as part of the “Helicopter Air Ambulance, Commercial Helicopter, and Part 91 Helicopter Operations” rulemaking project, you evaluated the effectiveness of current IIMC training programs for helicopter pilots, as well as implemented new regulations and provided guidance materials that target commercial helicopter operators—specifically those performing helicopter air ambulance operations. You also reported that, in coordination with the International Helicopter Safety Team and the United States Helicopter Safety Team, you reached out to the helicopter community to increase awareness of the dangers associated with IIMC. Although we believe these actions are positive steps, they do not satisfy the intent of this recommendation, which is to evaluate the effectiveness of current IIMC training programs for helicopter pilots and, based on your findings, develop and publish best practices for developing future training. We are concerned that the safety improvements required by the “Helicopter Air Ambulance, Commercial Helicopter, and Part 91 Helicopter Operations” final rule and discussed in your letter do not specifically address IIMC training programs for helicopter pilots. Further, although you evaluated existing training programs, you did not provide any details about your findings. If you believe that you have addressed these concerns, we encourage you to submit additional information. In the meantime, because you indicated that your actions are complete, Safety Recommendation A-14-107 is classified CLOSED--UNACCEPTABLE ACTION.
-From Daniel K. Elwell, Acting Administrator: As we noted in our first letter to the Board, dated January 30, 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has a long hi story of working collaboratively with the rotorcraft community. Since that letter, we worked closely with the helicopter industry to enhance instrument proficiency in helicopter pilots and increase awareness of the dangers associated with inadvertent flight into instrument meteorological conditions (I-IMC). As part of this effort, we worked with the International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST) and the United States Helicopter Safety Team (USI IST) to help reduce such occurrences by promoting awareness. best practices and conservative aeronautical decision making to helicopter pilots. Through outreach programs over the past 24 months, and in coordination with the IHST and USI IST, we provided or distributed the following products to the helicopter community to help reduce the occurrences of helicopter I-IMC: • Multiple public presentations at Heli-Expo 2015 and 2016 addressing instrument proficiency. risk management. and best practices for reducing I- IMC occurrences: • Multiple public presentations at regional helicopter safety events discussing risk mitigation strategies for reducing I-IMC occurrences: • Multiple Safety Bulletins and "Reel Safety" videos available on the IHST and USHST websites that combat I-IMC occurrences; and • A monthly news column focused on providing best practices for enhancing helicopter safety in Heliweb, an online helicopter trade magazine. In addition to these outreach initiatives, we evaluated the effectiveness of current training programs for helicopter pilots in inadvertent instrument meteorological conditions and implemented new regulations and guidance materials targeting commercial helicopter operators, specifically those performing helicopter air ambulance (HAA) operations. On February 21, 2014, we published the Helicopter Air Ambulance, Commercial Helicopter, and Part 91 Helicopter Operations Final Rule (79 FR 9931). This final rule implemented a package of regulatory updates to Title 14, Code of Federal Regulations Parts 91, 120, and 135 to address an increase in fatal helicopter accidents, particularly HAA operations. These changes will improve safety by requiring increased Class G airspace weather minimums, new operational procedures, and additional equipment for HAA operations and other commercial helicopter operators. This final rule requires all HAA operators to implement risk analysis procedures. It also requires larger HAA operators to implement Operations Control Centers and Operations Control Specialists and install specialized equipment. The final rule revises pilot testing, rules for alternate airports, and procedures for instrument flight and transitions between visual and instrument conditions and flight rules. In addition, these regulatory updates increase weather minimums for all helicopter operations, including general aviation and are distributed within the FAA ·s guidance and best practices to reduce I-IMC occu1Tences and increase overall helicopter safety. These updates also impact helicopter operations outside of part 91, as § 9 1. 155 outlines flight rules applicable to all helicopter operations.
We note that you intend to work with industry to determine an appropriate method for evaluating the effectiveness of current training programs for helicopter pilots in inadvertent instrument meteorological conditions. Pending our review of future updates regarding your progress in addressing this concern and completion of the recommended actions, Safety Recommendation A-14-107 is classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.
-From Michael P. Huerta, Administrator: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has a long history of working collaboratively with the rotorcraft community to identify and address risk factors associated with safety in Instrument Flight Rules operations. The FAA plans to reach out to its industry partners and explore avenues for evaluating training effectiveness, with particular focus on training best practices for inadvertent flight into instrument meteorological conditions.
Strategic Plan, Performance & Accountability Reports & More
Directions to Conference Center
Web Policies & Notices
Annual Review of Aircraft