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My Two Cents Worth (April 2014 Issue)

by Randy Mains

I love aviation humor.  I love it because I’ve found it always carries an element of truth.  Consider the following homework assignment purported to have been written by a fifth grade student at Jefferson School, Beaufort, SC. entitled:
 

Why I want to be a Pilot

 When I grow up I want to be a pilot because it's a fun job and easy to do. That's why there are so many pilots flying around these days. Pilots don't need much school.

My Two Cents Worth

by Randy Mains

Here’s a question for you:  What’s the difference between a $14 million full-motion, level D flight simulator and a $500 couch?  As I was to find out, the answer to that question is … not a lot.

In the January 2014 issue of Rotorcraft Pro, there were several very well written and informative articles about flight simulators.  Lyn Burks, the editor-in-chief of Rotorcraft Pro, had written an article about his experience flying a S76 C+ flight sim at the CAE training center in Whippany, New Jersey.  Ryan Mason wrote an insightful article entitled “Trends in Helicopter Simulation.”  Reading those two articles reminded me of the couch, and what a wonderful training tool it is.

Personal Protective Equipment (Part Two)

By Dr. Dudley Crosson

This is the concluding part of our article on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) / Aviation Life Support Equipment (ALSE).  Last month we looked at the helmet.  Now I would like to consider all other components of what a flight crew should wear.

PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (Part One)
By Dr. Dudley Crosson

It doesn’t matter what you call it – Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) or Aviation Life Support Equipment (ALSE) – it is all the same.  It is the equipment that the flight crew should be using to protect them from conditions that may occur during an accident.  It is common practice to utilize ALSE in the public safety and HEMS communities, but it is obvious that not all do so.

Perceptions of Safety
By Scott Skola


    Safety, safety, safety … with the full court press on safety these days, you would think that the rotorcraft industry would be at that much-revered “zero incidents and accidents” goal by now.  Unfortunately, we’re not.
 
    When you get down to it, what is safety?  Is it just an analytical state of mind, with a bunch of numbers and ratios proving its success?  Or does it also have a philosophical side, where perception and beliefs play a part in safety success?  The short answer—it’s both.  So, if a company wants no incidents and accidents—and every employee goes to work with the intention of not causing an incident or accident—why do we continue to come up short? 

My Two Cents Worth (Rotorcraft Pro February 2014 Issue) by Randy Mains

What does it mean to you to be a professional?  With that thought in mind, do you possess the attributes of a professional?  What do you think are essential qualities of a true professional?  Conversely, what qualities would you consider to be found in someone who is not a professional?  Considering what it takes to be professional – and unprofessional – will make you aware of what we all strive to be: a true professional in our chosen occupation.

My Two Cents Worth - Randy Mains

Wouldn’t it be great if there were a big fat red warning light on the instrument panel that would illuminate whenever we were putting our passengers and ourselves in harm’s way?  Well there is, but it’s not on the instrument panel – it’s in your head.

Research has shown that nearly 80% of all aircraft accidents in history have had an element of human error, which means it isn’t stick-and-rudder skills that are killing people – bad pilot decision-making is killing people.

My 2 Cents (December 2013)

Randy Mains

Six years after his historic flight, Orville Wright lost a friend in an aircraft accident.  He lamented, “What is needed is better judgment, rather than better skill.” 

    It’s been proven, whether flying single pilot or multi-crew, that faulty decision-making has caused far more aviation accidents than poor flying ability. 

    An element of crew resource management (CRM) examines nine hazardous attitudes and behaviors that can impede good judgement and decision-making. By identifying these behaviors and applying the anecdote to counteract them, you can break a vital link in the error chain and avoid having an incident or accident.

It appears the Australians put a higher value on patient safety than our FAA, NTSB and even Congress.  That’s a pretty strong statement, isn’t it?  Let me tell you how I arrived at that conclusion.

When my article “The Power of CRM” appeared in the August 2013 issue of Rotorcraft Pro my wife, Kaye, and I were in Australia, flown there by the Aeromedical Society of Australasia so that I could deliver two keynote speeches at their 25th scientific meeting of HEMS operators. 

My first keynote address was entitled “US Aeromedical Accidents – What can Australasian HEMS learn from our Mistakes?”  On the second day I delivered a keynote address entitled “CRM in Aeromedical Operations - Why CRM/AMRM (Air Medical Resource Management) is Absolutely Vital to HEMS Safety.” 

Randy Mains:  My Two Cents Worth


The following is the beginning of my latest book, The Reluctant Activist.
I stood next to the helicopter’s tail plane, looking up in disbelief at the massive damage I’d done.  The accident was entirely my fault.  I knew I shouldn’t have been anywhere near a cockpit this morning.  My mind wasn’t focused on flight training, but I decided to fly anyway.  It was a stupid mistake.  The reality of knowing how badly I’d screwed up sickened me. As well as losing my wife to another man recently, it seemed likely I could now lose my job.  This was not turning out to be one of my better mornings.

My 2 Cents Worth - Breaking the Error Chain

By Randy Mains

“This is stupid!”

What wonderful words to break the error chain.  I’ve certainly said it when I’ve been flying.  Like in bad weather when scud running, or doing anything in the air where I figured I probably shouldn’t be there.  “This is stupid,” can potentially be one of those simple, but brilliant, ideas designed to let you, the pilot, know it’s time to call it quits, go home, and thus prevent really scaring yourself and possibly having an accident.

CRM – The Last Line of Defense!

by Randy Mains

Imagine you’re an aviation doctor and you hold the cure to save lives in a deadly segment of helicopter aviation.  One day you learn that the FAA has finally mandated that all Part 135 operators must be administered this cure, or they cannot fly.  You gladly offer the cure, knowing it can save lives.  However, you soon discover that the parent (the helicopter company) of the patient (the flight crew) doesn’t want to give the full dose because of the added time and expense it takes to administer it.  So the helicopter company waters down the dose to near microscopic proportions, which satisfies the letter of the law, while successfully avoiding the spirit of the law.  But in their effort to save time and money, they render the cure totally useless.  It is my opinion that’s what’s happening in many HEMS programs.

  On September 30th three more names were added to the growing number of air medical air crash survivors in America, when a CareFlite Agusta 109 helicopter had what was euphemistically described...

Want to hear something shocking?  According to the American Journal of Clinical Medicine (Winter 2009 issue) after assessing past statistics then projecting them forward, they predicted that if you fly in a HEMS helicopter and do that job for twenty years, you face a 40 percent chance of losing your life.

Did you wake up today and think to yourself, “I will go to work and crash my helicopter?” Writing it looks absolutely ridiculous and I am sure that it reads equally ridiculous. Although no one plans an accident, I am confident that we can all agree that accidents do happen. Given that several occur each month, we can also agree that they occur on a regular basis.

The problem is that none of us, including me, has an impending feeling that it will actually happen to us.

It is no secret the civil NVG industry was born from military utilization of night vision technology. The acceptance and eventual proliferation of Night Vision Goggles (“NVG”s) into the civil aviation industry is not without bumps and bruises. The path to acceptance by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and civil industry operators alike, has required education, patience, and compromise. Today, nearly fifteen years after the first civil operator was approved by the FAA to utilize NVGs, the civil industry continues to be plagued with issues related to regulatory oversight. In this article, we will discuss: past efforts to standardize the civil industry; how those efforts support today’s NVG industry; and efforts taking place today to ensure a safe, healthy, and prosperous future for NVG operators and regulators.

How’s this for an observation? On a global scale the USA is not a role model for HEMS even though the commercial concept of a helicopter air ambulance began right here in America.  Does that shock you?  It shouldn’t if you’ve watched over the years as I have the appalling accident rate the industry has suffered over a third of a century.

The helicopter pilot works in an amazing, ever-changing environment. The skills necessary to accomplish the task at hand for most commercial or even private helicopter flight operations require a high level of concentration, ability and finesse just to name a few. (social skills excluded)

It was getting late in the afternoon and I had just finished a days flying in Key West, Florida. It had been one of those strange, hazy gray, overcast, blustery days, with the wind steady out of the east at 15 – 20 knots. It looked like it wanted to storm any minute, but never really did with the exception of an occasional spit of rain here and there.

As many of you know, I am passionate about safety and unreasonable regulatory and political initiatives, but I thought it might be nice to discuss my other passion — the people that make up this great industry of ours. Besides, if I think about regulations, legislation, politics, and life inside the Beltway too much, my head hurts, my stomach aches, and my brain turns to mush.

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