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Helicopter operators may face tougher rules

October 7, 2010, 03:26 pm

Helicopter operators could find themselves following stricter rules, thanks to a proposal by the Federal Aviation Administration. The proposal comes after 24 helicopter deaths in 2008, the highest yearly total to date. Data from the Helicopter Safety Advisory Conference says that some of the leading causes of accidents over the years are the result of flight terrain and engine-related incidences.

The proposed regulations would require operators to use more up-to-date technologies, one of which would give clearer weather and terrain data. Furthermore, additional precautions would be required in poor weather conditions and after sunset.

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt says the tougher rules are needed to make flying safer.

"We can prevent accidents by preparing pilots and equipping helicopters for all of the unique flying conditions they encounter," says Babbitt. "These new rules are designed to protect passengers, patients, medical personnel, and pilots."

Additionally, helicopter pilots would be required to receive specialized training on how to handle flying in certain weather conditions which require special instruments.

The costs of the proposal won't be inexpensive. The FAA predicts costs of $136 million for the ambulance industry and $89 million for commercial operators.

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