The Jan. 10 crash of a Life Evac 2 EC135 within eyeshot of the U.S. Capitol came as both the U.S. FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board were finalizing recommendations for more stringent safety practices in EMS operations.
The Air Methods Corp. aircraft crashed at about 11 p.m. local time en route to its base at Stafford, Va., Regional Airport after having transported a patient to Washington Hospital Center. Weather was reported to be clear. The aircraft struck the water just south of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, a major Potomac River crossing that is the site of major construction with numerous cranes and other structures. The pilot and flight paramedic were killed. The flight nurse survived with injuries. The NTSB is investigating. At the time, it also was discussing the final form of recommendations aimed at addressing the rash of accidents in U.S.-based aeromedical operations in the last three years.
NTSB officials expected to issue their recommendations to the FAA and industry before Heli-Expo 2005 opens in Anaheim, Calif. Feb. 6. The recommendations are expected to include calls for requirements that all EMS flights be conducted under FAR Part 135 from the time the aircraft is launched to the time it returns to base and for greater use of night-vision systems.