Safety of Air Ambulances [May 23, 2006]   [open pdf - 129KB]

"The estimated rate of air ambulance accidents has been steadily rising since the early 1990s, and has increased at a rapid rate since 1998 when the industry began to expand more rapidly and shift toward a model of more independent private air ambulance services that cover larger geographic areas. Statistics indicate that the large majority of air ambulance accidents are attributable to operational factors related to pilot situation awareness and decision making when faced with adverse environmental conditions such as darkness, deteriorating weather, rugged terrain, or some combination of these factors. Initiatives to improve air ambulance safety to date have consequently focused on additional pilot training, implementing risk management practices to improve the safety of flight operations, and using various technologies to improve pilot situation awareness in restricted visibility conditions. However, implementation of these safety measures has strictly been voluntary. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and other aviation safety experts are advocating the mandatory use of formal flight dispatch procedures and risk management practices among air ambulance operators as well as mandatory installation of terrain warning systems on air ambulance aircraft."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL33430
Public Domain
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