By Staff Writer | February 1, 2009
PUBLIC | EMS
Airborne emergency medical service operators in New Zealand who fly in the vicinity of Wellington are trying to fight a long-standing ban on single-engine helicopters flights above densely populated areas.
The ban, imposed by the Civil Aviation Authority, was designed to minimize the chance of a single-engine aircraft losing power and crashing into an urban environment by limiting flights to life-and-death missions only.
Local EMS operators say the ban is unnecessary and fiscally impractical, since the need to get patients into the hospital in Wellington is more urgent than the possibility of an engine failure. Wellington Hospital receives 50 to 80 flights a week.
Citizens and the CAA, however, say EMS operators frequently break the rules by routinely conducting non-emergency patient transfer flights in and out of the area.
The alternative for operators is to upgrade to twin-engine ships, which are allowed to land in congested areas. This costly endeavor would ruin the country’s health care system and donations of about $2 million for each helicopter.