On Feb. 22, HAI hosted a public service technology workshop at Heli-Expo. Capt. Don Roby of Baltimore County PD led a discussion of the benefits and drawbacks of the growing number of safety-related equipment turning up on police, fire and EMS helicopters. Joining him was a panel with Cmdr. Sam Creech from USCG Air Station, San Francisco; David Cruz, homeland security sales manager for Bell; Jeff Guzzetti, NTSB investigator; Perry Esquer, chief of air operations for San Diego FD; and Rotor & Wing’s editor-at-large, Ernie Stephens.
Topics covered the latest statistics related to public safety aviation operations and accidents and the panel’s observations on which technologies and safety systems held the most promise for reducing air mishaps in the public service sector.
As the discussion progressed, the focus soon turned towards the question of whether tools, such as NVGs, moving maps and TAWS, could have reduced benefits if they distract pilots from the business of controlling the helicopter. While no absolute conclusions could be reached, the consensus was that the benefit of each piece of safety-related technology must be weighed heavily against the crew’s ability to operate it, without causing personnel to fixate on the technology, or treat it as a “magic pill” that eliminates the aviator’s duty to make safe, intelligent aeronautical decisions. —By Rotor & Wing staff (From April 2010 Rotorcraft Report)