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FAA Sets Date for Air Ambulance Rules

It has been said that those working in the air ambulance industry are working in the most dangerous job in the world. Some studies have confirmed this, while other studies have found otherwise. What we do know is our staff are always ready to help those in need. An air ambulance mission can take our staff into some really remote areas to rescue someone in need. Now the Federal Aviation Administration is stepping up efforts to help medical transport professionals stay safe.

Starting on April 22, 2015 new air ambulance rules will go into effect for air ambulance companies. Most of these rules are aimed at helicopters, however key pieces of new rules are aimed at keeping everyone safe. With over 75 air ambulance companies in the United States, counting Travel Care, and over 1,500 helicopters flying around, these new regulations will help pilots better do their jobs.

One key change that will take effect in April has to do with weather. Pilots will now be able to determine whether to take off from sites where weather reports are unavailable. This is especially important for air ambulances that end up in very remote areas. Pilots will now be able to determine if observed visibility and ceiling is greater than the specified minimums and will be able to fly based on those determinations.

The FAA says about 400,000 patients are transported by air ambulance every year. Because these new rules are aimed at helicopters it will greatly improve safety of air ambulance missions that fly at low altitudes. These new rules will help keep patients and staff safer with new technologies like night vision goggles that will assist pilots flying at night.

The FAA’s progress in implementing these rules have led to some debate. These rules were originally set to go into effect this past April, however the FAA decided to push the rules back another year to give companies time to adjust. The Office of Inspector General started to look at air ambulance rules and how they would be implemented starting in 2013.

At Travel Care we are always on the look out for ways to keep our patients and staff safe. We welcome input from the FAA, especially their decision to allow pilots to do what is best for all involved during an air ambulance mission.

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