EASA has issued a regulatory opinion to further boost helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) operational safety in Europe while also “fostering efficiency and proportionality while keeping the economic impact on HEMS operators to a minimum.” Adoption of the amendments is scheduled for the second quarter of next year.
The final text of this opinion is based on the review of comments EASA received to two notices of proposed amendments (NPA) issued in 2018 and 2019, as well as discussions with the agency’s member states advisory board during a meeting in February.
One of the NPAs would revise requirements regarding HEMS operations at high altitudes, flights to and from hospital landing pads in congested areas, mountainous area rescues, night operations, and additional training, equipment, and maintenance rules. The objective of the other NPA is to reduce accidents under VFR in marginal weather conditions and to resolve regulatory obstacles currently impeding helicopter flights under IFR.
The new regulation would also require HEMS aircraft have an autopilot to fly single-pilot at night. High altitude performance rules would permit operations under specific limited conditions for helicopters that are not certified to Category A.
Meanwhile, emergency locator transmitter (ELT) rules would be clarified and ELT equipment alternatives would be introduced to reduce the cost for helicopters that are flown variously for commercial, non-commercial, and specialized operations.