While overall aviation accidents and fatalities have been down since 1994, the NTSB has noted an increase in general aviation accidents, and in particular Part 135 charter operations. Within that category med evac helicopters have shown a sharp increase in both accidents and deaths, causing concern for these operators.
NTSB Acting Chairman Mark V. Rosenker, commenting on Part 135 fatalities, stated that "There's a lot of room for improvement in this area." The interesting thing is, though, that rearely does the FAA take action on the NTSB recommendations, relying instead on its own internal facts to determine what and how it should enforce the regs.
Accidents on air taxi Part 135 flights killed 66 people in the United States last year, the highest total since 2000, transportation safety officials said yesterday. The air charter category includes medical helicopters, tour flights and Part 135 "on demand" air taxi operators.
Airlines in the United States had been having an uncommonly quiet period, as measured by aviation deaths, for the past two years, but that ended with two high-profile accidents this year. In February, a commuter turboprop crashed into a home outside Buffalo, killing 50 people. Last month, a small plane crashed in Butte, Mont., resulting in 14 deaths, including several children.
All of this proves that aviation is still a dangerous business, and as pilots we need to always be alert and aware of what is happening in the aircraft we fly.
Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch!
I sweep the skies with fire and steel
My highway is the cloud
I swoop, I soar, aloft I wheel
My engine laughing loud
I fight with gleaming blades the wind
That dares dispute my path
I leave the howling storm behind
I ride upon it's wrath.
I laugh to see your tiny world
Your toys of ships, your cars
I rove an endless road unfurled
Where the mile stones are the stars
And far below, men wait and peer
For what my coming brings
I fill their quaking hearts with fear
For death...is in my wings.
— Gordon Boshell, written after watching Battle of Britain dogfights