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DOT/FAA RIN: 2120-AJ53 Publication ID: Fall 2013 
Title: +Air Ambulance and Commercial Helicopter Operations; Safety Initiatives and Miscellaneous Amendments 
Abstract: This rulemaking would change equipment and operating requirements for commercial helicopter operations, including many specifically for helicopter air ambulance operations. This rulemaking is necessary to increase crew, passenger, and patient safety. The intended effect is to implement National Transportation Safety Board, Aviation Rulemaking Committee, and internal FAA recommendations. 
Agency: Department of Transportation(DOT)  Priority: Other Significant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Final Rule Stage 
Major: No  Unfunded Mandates: No 
CFR Citation: 14 CFR 1    14 CFR 135    14 CFR 91    14 CFR 120   
Legal Authority: 49 USC 106(g)    49 USC 1155    49 USC 40101 to 40103    49 USC 40120    49 USC 41706    49 USC 41721    49 USC 44101    49 USC 44106    49 USC 44111    49 USC 46306    49 USC 46315    49 USC 46316    49 USC 46504    49 USC 46506    49 USC 46507    49 USC 47122    49 USC 47508    49 USC 47528 to 47531    49 USC 44701   
Legal Deadline:
Action Source Description Date
Final  Statutory  49 USC 44730(b), as enacted under PL 112-95, sec. 306(b) (Feb. 14, 2012)  06/01/2012 

Statement of Need: Since 2002, there has been an increase in fatal helicopter air ambulance accidents. The FAA has undertaken initiatives to address common factors that contribute to helicopter air ambulance accidents including issuing notices, handbook bulletins, operations specifications, and advisory circulars (ACs). This rule would codify many of those initiatives, as well as several NTSB and Part 125/135 Aviation Rulemaking Committee recommendations. This rule would also satisfy the rulemaking requirements for helicopter air ambulance operations in PL 1112-95, section 306.

Summary of the Legal Basis: This rulemaking is promulgated under the authority described in 49 U.S.C. 44701(a)(4), which requires the Administrator to promulgate regulations in the interest of safety for the maximum hours or periods of service of airmen and other employees of air carriers, and 49 U.S.C. 44701(a)(5), which requires the Administrator to promulgate regulations and minimum standards for other practices, methods, and procedures necessary for safety in air commerce and national security.

Alternatives: Alternative One: The alternative would exclude the HTAWS (Helicopter Terrain Awareness and Warning System) unit from this proposal. Although the ratio of annualized cost to annual revenue would decrease from a range of between 1.80 percent and 1.87 percent to a range of between 1.61 percent and 1.68 percent would also be a reduction in safety. The HTAWS is an outstanding tool for situational awareness in all aspects of flying including day, night, and instrument meteorological conditions. Therefore the FAA believes that this equipment is a significant enhancement for safety. Alternative Two: The alternative would increase the requirement of certificate holders from 10 to 15 helicopters or more that are engaged in helicopter air ambulance operations to have an Operations Control Center. The FAA believes that operators with 10 or more helicopters engaged in air ambulance operations would cover 83 percent of the total population of the air ambulance fleet in the U.S. The FAA believes that operators with 15 or more helicopters would decrease the coverage of the population to 78 percent. Furthermore, complexity issues arise and considerably increase with operators of more than 10 helicopters. All alternatives above are not considered to be acceptable by the FAA in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 603(c).

Anticipated Costs and Benefits: The FAA estimated the rule would cost $309 million ($242 million 7 percent present value) over 10 years. The benefits were estimated to be $1030 million ($725 million 7 percent present value) over 10 years. This is a preliminary estimate that is subject to change based on further review and analysis.

Risks: Helicopter air ambulance operations have several characteristics that make them unique, including that they are not limited to airport locations for picking up and dropping off patients, but may pick up a person at a road side accident scene and transport him or her directly to a hospital. Helicopter air ambulance operations are also often time-sensitive. A helicopter air ambulance flight may be crucial to getting a donor organ or critically ill or injured patient to a medical facility as efficiently as possible. Additionally, patients generally are not able to choose the helicopter air ambulance company that provides them with transportation. Despite the fact that there are unique aspects to helicopter air ambulance operations, they remain, at their core, air transportation. Accordingly the FAA has the responsibility for ensuring the safety of these operations.

Action Date FR Cite
NPRM  10/12/2010  75 FR 62640   
NPRM Comment Period End  01/10/2011 
Final Rule  12/00/2013 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: No  Government Levels Affected: None 
Small Entities Affected: Businesses  Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes 
RIN Information URL:   Public Comment URL:  
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No 
Agency Contact:
Gregory French
Department of Transportation
Federal Aviation Administration
800 Independence Ave, SW,
Washington, DC 20591

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