Today, the winners of Eurocopter’s 2011 “Golden Hour” Award were honored at a ceremony in Orlando, Florida. The Golden Hour Award recognizes those who advance the use of helicopters in the air medical transport industry, either through their contributions over time or a specific activity.
This year, the award went to the latter, a heroic international air medical crew made up of Captain Daniel Aufdenblatten and rescue specialist/mountain guide Richard Lehner from Air Zermatt in Switzerland, and the late Captain Sabin Basnyat, who had been the chief pilot of Fishtail Air in Nepal.
The team successfully used a long-line to rescue climbers from Annapurna I, the 10th highest mountain in the world.
On April 29th of last year, Aufdenblatten, Basnyat, and Lehner rescued a team of Spanish mountain climbers who were stranded high atop a steep area of Mount Annapurna, one of the world’s tallest mountains. The climbers were stuck at a precarious altitude of 22,800 feet, on a mountain 26,550 feet tall at its highest elevation.
Life Air, an Ohio-based air ambulance service whose company roots stretch back twenty-six years to the creation of Life Ambulance Service Inc., has been acquired by Air Evac Lifeteam for an undisclosed sum.
A sister company of Life Ambulance Service, Life Air was incorporated in 2006 to provide rapid response services to nearby rural areas by utilizing air ambulances in addition to Life Ambulance’s ground response vehicles.
Air Evac Lifeteam, headquartered in West Plains, Missouri, is a service recognized for its services in rural areas. Air Evac’s President and CEO, Seth Myers, expects a seamless transition to take place, with personnel being unaffected and no service outages or interruptions. This is particularly relevant in the case of Air Evac, which provides services to some of its customers via a membership system that covers their service areas. This system is particularly well-suited for families who live far out in rural areas who may require being flown out by helicopter if they experience a life or limb-threatening medical emergency.
Staying current with trends around the world, healthcare firms in India are reportedly looking to air ambulances to improve their emergency healthcare response system and transport patients in remote areas to hospitals across the country.
Sify, a Financial/Business News service in India, has just reported that OSS Air Management, a Delhi-based helicopter service provider, has acquired two AugustaWestland AW-109′s with the goal of starting the first helicopter ambulance service in Bangalore by this summer. (Technically the company is aiming for mid-2011, which means in India it will be the Monsoon season – it will be summer in the northern hemisphere.)
OSS is using the AW-109s as part of a “pilot project” for medical service deployment in Bangalore. For this, they have joined forces with a prominent super-specialty hospital in the city called Vydehi. During this stage of the project, OSS will supply the helicopters, the pilots to fly them, and the mechanics to maintain them – while facilities for the new ambulances like helipads, fuel, and residences for the pilots will be supplied by their partner hospital.
The Associated Press reported December 10th that the Federal Government’s trouble with keeping track of paperwork has led them to uncertainty as to the owners of about a third of all private and commercial airplanes currently in service. The FAA’s response to this problem is to cancel registration certificates over a three year period, requiring all airplane owners to start the registration process from the beginning.
All planes are required to have their registration or “N” numbers visible on the tail or fuselage, but the FAA fears the current state of their records could be exploited by criminals, terrorists, and drug traffickers. They also say better record-keeping in the future will make it easier to alert plane owners of new safety information, like airworthiness directives.
Last Thurday, the FAA announced a proposal that would require photos on pilot certificates, as well as other higher-security measures.
It is a move that was ordered by the government in 2004, intended to guard against terrorists getting through airport security. One congressman who helped write the new law, Rep. John Mica (R – Fla), wrote a letter to the TSA, FAA, and Homeland Security Department demanding an explanation for their noncompliance with the law, citing that “It is absolutely astounding that DHS, TSA and FAA could, after six years to implement the act, still achieve such an incredible level of incompetence.”
Under the proposal, a brand new pilot certificate would be valid for eight years. At the end of eight years pilots would be required to get a new certificate and update their photo. If it is finalized, different pilots would have different deadlines to get one of the new enhanced certificates: