NTSB Issues Recommendations to Mercy Pilot Groups

After reviewing four accidents involving volunteer pilots flying medical patients, the National Transportation Safety Board has three areas of concern. There are numerous charity flight organizations throughout the country. Member pilots donate their time and use of their aircraft to transport ambulatory patients and family members to and from treatment. The accidents occurred between Sept. 26, 2007, and Aug. 12, 2008. The NTSB recommends that the organizations shore up their standards in these areas: verification of pilot currency; disclosure to patients that flights are not conducted under the same standards as commercial operations; and written safety guidance, best practices and training material for volunteer pilots. The Air Care Alliance, a group that coordinates many of the volunteer organizations, is developing an Internet-based interactive course for mercy pilots in cooperation with the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. There are plans for a conference to gather and discuss material for the course.

Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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