Tipped off by a story from AVWeb, we discovered that the avionics company Rockwell Collins has pioneered the very first Head-Up Display (HUD) guidance system for light to mid-sized aircraft. Fixed-wing air ambulance operators and charter companies may want to take a look at this exciting upcoming technology.
The high-tech, self-contained system, which Rockwell Collins just unveiled at the Corporate Aviation Safety Seminar in San Diego, is called the HGS-3500. It is designed, like larger systems, to provide head-up guidance cues that enhance both the pilot’s situational awareness and the overall safety of the flight mission. The system has been scaled down in physical size to where it can potentially be installed in the smaller cockpits of turboprops and business jets, such as those commonly used by air ambulance companies.
According to an article that recently appeared in The Boston Herald, many residents of Boston’s historic, upscale Beacon Hill district are fuming over “noisy” helicopters they feel are invading their airspace. FAA officials have been called to investigate what some residents call the “dangerous practices” of medical and news helicopters.
The Beacon Hill Civic Association wrote a letter to FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt stating that they often receive complaints that medevac helicopters – rotor aircraft carrying patients in need of urgent, life-saving medical care – often fly directly over the Beacon Hill area rather than following the designated flight routes along the river. The chairman of the BHCA, Jon Achatz, claims that he is often woken up by the helicopters in the morning and that his fellow residents complain about the aircraft flying at too low an altitude.
Ed. note: The staff here at the Air Ambulance Weekly blog would like to point out in advance that we do not mean to be “picking on” air traffic controllers as of late – we are merely telling you about the current newsworthy events in the air medical industry that are being reported. The news media is currently watching closely and reporting heavily on air traffic control mishaps. In addition, the FAA is battling bad press and has been taking actions and enforcing new policies due to these incidents which affect everyone in all aspects of the aviation industry.
With the disclaimer out of the way, a lone air traffic controller at Reno-Tahoe International Airport fell asleep around 2am as an air ambulance carrying a patient tried to land on the runway. The pilot repeatedly tried to contact the tower for guidance. Receiving no response, he radioed a regional facility in Oakland, who tried to reach the sleeping controller.
FAA Finds 2nd Air Traffic Controller Made Bed in Tower, Slept as 4 Lifeguard Air Ambulances Tried to Land
The FAA recently discovered another case of an overworked air traffic controller falling asleep in the tower. This comes approximately two weeks after a controller at Reagan National Airport accidentally fell asleep on the overnight shift, leaving the tower silent, and also leaving 2 planes and 165 passengers to circle the runway and eventually land on their own. The controller in this case was actually a supervisor performing the duties of a controller, on his fourth consecutive overnight shift.
However, the newly discovered case at a Knoxville airport actually occurred before the Reagan incident. In this one, air traffic controller made headlines by fully preparing for his on-duty nap – falling asleep in a makeshift bed he had constructed out of couch cushions from the employee breakroom and a blanket.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, government employees whose jobs involve air safety will continue to go to work even if the government shuts down this week due to the much-talked about budget stalemate. The Washington Post reported that although many non-critical functions of the FAA would be suspended, an official from the agency has reassured them that they “will retain all employees necessary to keep the national airspace system operating safely.”
TSA (Transportation Safety Administration) employees would continue to work as well; the same going for Air Traffic Controllers.
However, some administrative services that the government provides for aircraft, such as aircraft certification, will be suspended — if the government actually shuts down, that is.
NextGen, the satellite-based FAA project we reported on last year that is designed to increase the safety and dependability of air traffic over a period of years, would be suspended in the event of a temporary shutdown as well.