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FAA Faces Challenges Getting Satellite-Based ATC System Off the Ground

FAA NextGen ERAM SystemThe FAA has already been encountering significant setbacks and budget overruns in its “NextGen” campaign to modernize the U.S. air traffic control system. Most recently, the busy agency has discovered that they may need to spend an extra $500 Million launching a major component that is already far behind schedule.

DOT Inspector General Calvin Scovel wrote a letter to Congress this week that the FAA “faces several organizational, policy, logistical, and training challenges” in the completion and implementation of Lockheed Martin’s new GPS-based high-altitude Air Traffic Control system.

Completing the ERAM project, which the FAA had planned to have finished by the end of the year, could now take between 3 to 6 additional years, Scovel says. He added in his inspection findings that the cost escalation could force the agency “to reallocate funds from other modernization projects.” Unfortunately it will be a necessary move, as the Inspector General noted that over 200 problems have been found with the new software.

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Staff for Life Helicopter Crashes in Missouri; 3 Crewmembers Injured

Helicopter Crash La Monte MissouriAt approximately 10:15 Sunday morning, a Staff for Life helicopter crashed on its helipad located outside of Sedalia, MO shortly after takeoff. Three members of the flight crew on board were injured.

The Kansas City Star reports that the helicopter was responding to a call and had just lifted off its helipad, when, according to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, it lost one of its engines and crashed down on its helipad in the small town of La Monte (10 miles west of Sedalia, Missouri) only a few feet away from a container of jet fuel and a number of propane tanks.

The helicopter, operated by Air Methods, was about 200 feet in the air when the lost engine failed. Nearby fire departments, the Missouri State Highway Patrol, and a hazmat team responded to the crash.

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Organ Transplant OK after Jet Crashes and Burns; Air Ambulance Pilot Helps Save Liver

Reuters ImageIn a recent UK story that is now receiving a lot of attention here in the States — a plane carrying a donor organ crashed and burst into flames while attempting to land on the tarmac at Birmingham International Airport in thick London-like fog.

The organ — a liver — was being carried from Belfast on board a small twin-engined Cessna 501 “Citation” which clipped an antenna as the pilot tried to land at the end of the obscured runway. According to witnesses, the plane partially missed the tarmac and caught on fire in mid-air, becoming a fireball as it hit the ground.

A pilot from an air ambulance helicopter nearby ran to the wreckage, bravely entered the burning wreckage and turned off the fuel line, with the 58-year old pilot and a crewmember in his 30′s trapped inside.

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FAA Cancelling all Plane Registration Certificates

FAA Cancels Plane RegistrationsThe Federal Aviation Administration is requiring ALL private and commercial planes to re-register for their certificates during the next three years — that’s about 357,000 certficates.

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.

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Can iPhone Apps Help EMS Providers Save Lives?

ALS on the iPhoneWith the year 2011 almost here, it’s no surprise that many of the old spiral-bound pocketbooks — the ones medics have traditionally carried for years — now have mobile digital versions. But can these new digital guides replace their tried-and-true analog counterparts? This week, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of new medical field guides on the iPhone for EMS providers.

Just like the pocket reference books, the information in these apps is presented in short, pointed style, meant to cue an EMS provider into their training. Being digital, these apps also have quick keyword search capability — something you won’t find on a spiral-bound guide — and a bookmarking feature. You can even take notes down on pages just as you would with a paper guide.

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