Last week, a pilot for the American airline JetBlue suffered injuries to one eye as a result of a green laser being shone into the cockpit. Authorities have yet to find the person responsible for the senseless act. The FAA and the FBI are both investigating the incident.
According to an FAA report, the incident occurred on a Sunday when Flight 657, carrying 84 people, was flying to NYC’s JFK airport from Syracuse, NY.
The green beam shot into the cockpit through the windshield of the Embraer E190 and hit the first officer in the eye. On the ground, the control tower received immediate notification of the incident.
According to a live tape of the incident, the pilot who contacted the tower told the tower, “We just got lasered up here. Two green flashes into the cockpit,” adding that the flashes “caught the first officer in his eye.”
During the time that we were waiting to post last week’s blog (regarding the sudden grounding of many EC135 helicopters after a crack found in the rotor hub of a single helicopter), we received news that the previously grounded EC135 air ambulances we discussed in a recent article have been officially cleared to fly again by many air ambulance services across the United Kingdom.
Following the conclusion of thorough safety inspections across the entire Eurocopter EC135 fleet, vital air ambulances in Scotland, Wales, and areas of Great Britain can now return to the skies and resume providing life-saving services.
We at Air Ambulance Weekly are glad to hear of this new development, and are especially glad that these air ambulance crews are able to the skies in these high-tech aircraft once again. For more information on the prior safety concern with this specific helicopter model, the original blog post follows below:
Across the pond last week, the European Aviation Safety Agency reportedly ordered a slew of safety checks on a type of rotor-wing aircraft that is currently utilized by various air ambulance services based in the United Kingdom.A fault in the body of the helicopter — one that could potentially lead to crashes if not addressed– was recently discovered in a specific helicopter used by a Scottish air ambulance.
The initial find by Bond Air Services consisted of a crack located on the main rotor hub of an EC135 Eurocopter. Upon learning of the anomaly, the EASA has mandated pre-flight checks for related safety issues on all EC135 until their full investigation into the problem is concluded.
The EASA claims that the underlying condition, if not corrected early on, could lead to advanced crack propagation, “possibly resulting in main rotor hub failure and consequent loss of the helicopter.”
As of today, aviation flight manuals have officially gone high-tech. This week, the New York Times reported that the Federal Aviation Administration has decided to allow pilots on American Airlines flights to use iPads in their cockpits in lieu of the traditionally mandated paper flight manuals. The “iPad exception” applies during all phases of American Airline flights, including takeoff and landing procedures.
Will air ambulance crews some day be afforded the same luxury? It certainly looks that way, although, as is often the case when red tape is involved, FAA approval for devices like iPads during all phases of an air ambulance flight could still be a few years away.
Why did the airline push to replace the traditional paper manuals traditionally stored in the cockpit? Well, one sound reason is that a 1.5 pound iPad replaces roughly 35 pounds of paper, resulting in a considerable fuel cost savings: approximately $1.2 million over the course of a single year (figure from Seattle Pi).
Unbelievable – or is it? From Britain, comes yet another deplorable instance of a misguided person interfering with an air ambulance transport by way of a handheld laser pen.
According to the BBC’s report, the air ambulance helicopter was responding to an emergency at a man’s house in Caine. The man, in his 70′s, had suffered a cardiac arrest.
The air ambulance crew successfully picked up the patient, and the aircraft was on its way to the hospital when they encountered the dazzling effects of a laser pen entering the cockpit. The bright beam interfered with the pilot’s vision, forcing him to abort the landing.
Because of this, the patient had to be transferred to a ground ambulance and then taken to the hospital by road. Later, at the hospital, the man was pronounced dead.