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Helicopter Pilots and Union Applaud NTSB Hearing

5th February 2009 - 00:10 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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As the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) holds four days of hearings in Washington regarding helicopter safety this week, the Professional Helicopter Pilots Association International (PHPA) is expressing its enthusiasm in having the opportunity to participate.

The PHPA International represents more than 4,000 helicopter pilots that perform duties ranging from transporting ill or injured people to hospitals to supplying the oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. "Safety is a primary issue for our members," says PHPA President Butch Grafton. "We think this hearing will have an extremely important impact on safety."

PHPA International is one of seven organizations represented on the NTSB panel that is seeking information this week on HEMS (helicopter emergency medical services) safety issues.

PHPA sent four pilots to the hearing, which will address traditional helicopter HEMS issues such as pilot training, VFR weather minimums, safety equipment, and others.

The four pilots are Al Duquette, who is the PHPA's Safety Chairman, Jeff Stackpole, President of PHPA Local 109, and EMS Pilots Dan McDade and Troy Montanez, the latter of whom is the Editor of Autorotate Magazine, the publication of the PHPA.

This week's hearing is exploring additional topics including HEMS operating models (traditional, "hospital based," "community based" and public use), reimbursement practices and its association with the dramatic increase in HEMS services, and competition between companies and its effect on flight safety.

PHPA International has sent these very experienced pilots to attend this hearing in its ongoing effort to represent helicopter pilots in every aspect of their profession.

"We are proud of these members of the PHPA International and we think they can make strong contributions to this process," Grafton says.

"We appreciate the fact that the NTSB is working to address the issue of safety in the helicopter industry and want to do everything possible to help in this effort.

 

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