Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council Air Medical Provider Advisory Group (AMPAG)

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1 Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council Air Medical Provider Advisory Group (AMPAG) MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING FOR HELICOPTER AIR AMBULANCE (HAA) AIR-TO-AIR COMMUNICATION AND COORDINATION PLAN JULY 2014 BACKGROUND In June 2008, a catastrophic mid-air collision near Flagstaff, AZ resulted in the death of two patients, five rotor-wing crewmembers and the destruction of two aircraft. In order to mitigate the potential of this occurrence in our region of the state of Texas, the Helicopter Air Ambulance (HAA) operators, that routinely provide service in the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council for Trauma (STRAC) area, to include Air Evac Lifeteam, Methodist AirCare, PHI Air Medical, San Antonio AirLIFE, and Travis County STAR Flight have elected to develop this document, and agree to its content, in an effort to enhance safety amongst and between helicopters operating in the same geographic region. This communication plan is intended to supplement current Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulated procedures, such as Air Traffic Control (ATC) contact and airport advisories, and not to alter or replace them. PURPOSE This plan is intended to standardize appropriate in-flight information dissemination amongst and between Helicopter Air Ambulance (HAA) operators in an effort to enhance potential collision avoidance between rotor-wing aircraft operating in the same area. It is also intended to provide information to HAA Pilots and HAA Medical Crew Members regarding expectations of compliance with the MOU. This MOU does not address aircraft that are operating under an Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) Flight Plan as they are under the direct guidance of an Air Traffic Control (ATC) Center. DESIRED OUTCOME To standardize communication procedures for rotor-wing aircraft during response to, landing at, and take-off from, uncontrolled airspace or from those areas that lack an effective communication 1 P A G E Origina l 10/2008; Revised 10/2012, 07/2014; Exp iration: 07/2017

2 procedure previously established. Use of other established procedures should be agreed upon between HAA operators in their respective Regional Advisory Councils Air Medical Coordination forums. FOR ALL VFR OPERATIONS GREATER T HAN 15-MINUTES OUTSIDE OF SAN ANTON IO ORGANIZATIONS AGREE TO THE FOLLOWING A. All HAA s will utilize frequency: for Air-to-Air communications when operating greater than 15-minutes outside of the city of San Antonio. When within 5NM of an ATA, the HAA should follow program specific GOM for ATA s. B. Helicopter crews will announce their intentions for the following in-flight operations: 1. On approach: a. Five minutes out from landing b. One minute out from landing c. Upon landing 2. Departure: a. Prior to Lift-off with intended route of departure b. One minute from departure site c. Five minutes from departure site C. Information to be provided: 1. All statements of intentions will include aircraft position relative to the landing or departure site, which should also be named. Information will include: a. Aircraft Call-Sign b. Position relative to intended destination or take-off area or in relation to a known location (i.e. Hondo Airport, City of Cotulla, etc.) c. Altitude d. Direction of travel in relation to stated destination or departure location. e. ETA - given as clock time, military format. E. Examples of stated intentions: 1. On approach: a. Aircraft Call Sign, is 9 nautical miles north, inbound to St. Rural Elsewhere Hospital, 2000 feet, ETA b. Aircraft Call Sign, is 1 nautical mile north, inbound to St. Rural Elsewhere Hospital, 900 feet, ETA c. Aircraft Call Sign is on the pad at St. Rural Elsewhere Hospital. 2. Departure: 2 P A G E

3 a. Aircraft Call Sign, is ready to depart St. Rural Elsewhere Hospital to the Southeast. b. Aircraft Call Sign, was off St. Rural Elsewhere Hospital 1-minute ago. We are 1 nautical mile Southeast en route to San Antonio at 1000 ft. c. Aircraft Call Sign, off St. Rural Elsewhere Hospital 5-minutes ago. We are 9 nautical miles Southeast en route to San Antonio at 2000 ft. FOR ALL VFR OPERATIONS WITHIN 15-MINUTES OF THE CITY OF SAN ANTONIO ORGANIZATIONS AGREE TO THE FOLLOWING A. All HAA s will utilize frequency: (Transmit & Receive with open PL Tones) which is known as V-Med-28 for Air-to-Air communications and Air-to-AirLIFE FLTCOMM communications when operating within 15-minutes of the city of San Antonio. B. At the earliest possible time, the HAA s Communication Center shall notify AirLIFE FLTCOMM that one of their Helicopters is en route to a San Antonio Hospital Helipad and the estimated arrival time by telephone to (800) or (210) C. The HAA s Helicopter shall contact AirLIFE FLTCOMM at least 15 minutes prior, or as soon as practical, to the anticipated arrival of the aircraft to a San Antonio Hospital Helipad by direct radio communication. Contact with AirLIFE FLTCOMM shall be made via the V-Med-28 frequency ( for both transmit and receive with open PL tones), with information as described below. D. Helicopter crews will announce their intentions for the following in-flight operations: Minutes out 2. 5-Minutes out 3. 1-Minute out 4. Landing 5. Intention to Lift-Off / Relocate 6. Departure from San Antonio E. Information to be provided: 1. All statements of intentions will include aircraft position relative to the landing or departure site, which should also be named. Information will include: a. Aircraft Call-Sign b. Position relative to intended destination or take-off area c. Altitude d. Direction of travel in relation to stated destination or departure location. e. ETA - given as clock time, military format. F. These radio calls are made in addition to any of the routine flight following procedures performed by each program on their discreet company frequencies. 3 P A G E

4 G. Examples of stated intentions: Minutes out: a. Aircraft Call Sign, is 28 nautical miles Northwest of University Hospital, 2,000 feet. ETA Minutes out: a. Aircraft Call Sign, is 9 nautical miles Northwest of University Hospital 1,400 feet. ETA Minute out: a. Aircraft Call Sign, is 1 nautical mile Northwest of University Hospital for landing. ETA Landing: a. Aircraft Call Sign, has landed at University Hospital. 5. Intention to Lift-Off or Relocate: a. Aircraft Call Sign, will be departing from University Hospital to the Northeast going to KSAT (San Antonio International). b. Aircraft Call Sign, off University Hospital 1-minute ago en route to KSAT. c. Aircraft Call Sign, landing at KSAT. d. Aircraft Call Sign, off KSAT en route to University Hospital for crew pickup. e. Aircraft Call Sign, is 1 nautical mile Southwest of University Hospital for crew pickup. ETA f. Aircraft Call Sign, has landed University Hospital. 6. Departure from San Antonio: a. Aircraft Call Sign departing University Hospital to the West en route to Uvalde. b. Aircraft Call Sign has departed the San Antonio area to the West en route to Uvalde. H. AirLIFE FLTCOMM has agreed to be a facilitator of aircraft specific communications with regards to known HAA activity or known NOTAM s. AirLIFE FLTCOMM is NOT an air-traffic control and should not be considered as an ATC. AirLIFE FLTCOMM has simply agreed to pass along known information in an effort to improve the Safety of medical helicopter operations within the San Antonio community. AirLIFE FLTCOMM will answer each stated intention above and pass along known advisories. In some cases, AirLIFE FLTCOMM has been tasked with helipad coordination (i.e. University Hospital, Baptist Health System Hospitals, and Methodist Health System Hospitals). Specific guidance has been provided to AirLIFE FLTCOMM from each of these entities and AirLIFE will follow and relay the guidance provided by each of them. Request for helicopters to shut-down on a pad will be answered in accordance with the guidance provided by each of the above healthcare entities. San Antonio AirLIFE has surveillance cameras at some of its helipads but not all. San Antonio AirLIFE has no camera access at any non-airlife affiliated (Baptist Health System or University Health System) facility and, therefore, cannot provide any information about the safety or security of helipads to include the presence of aircraft that failed to notify AirLIFE FLTCOMM of their landing intentions there. 4 P A G E

5 HAA AGE NCY COMMUNICATION AND COORDINATION WITH REQUESTING PARTIES ORGANIZATIONS AGREE TO THE FOLLOWING A. For routine requests for service, HAA agencies shall provide the following information: 1. For standby requests, HAA dispatch shall provide: a. Ground or flying standby status b. ETE in minutes c. Origin of responding HAA 2. For immediate response requests, HAA dispatch shall provide: a. ETA in military time b. Origin of responding HAA B. For multiple patient scene incidents and/or mass casualty incidents requiring more than one HAA, the Authority Having Jurisdiction (AHJ) on scene shall make the request through the AHJ dispatch center for additional HAA s. If an en route or on scene HAA receives a request to send additional HAA s from EMS, Fire, Law Enforcement, or other authorized public safety/first response personnel, the HAA shall direct the requesting party to go through the AHJ dispatch to activate additional HAA s. Once requested, the HAA shall provide the following information: 1. Ground standby or flying standby status 2. ETA in military time 3. Origin of the responding HAA INDEMNIFICATION This MOU is intended to enhance safe operations where Federal Regulations are presently inadequate and should be considered a Best Practice and not a legal requirement for Air Medical Providers. Therefore: 1. The HAA who complies or fails to comply with this MOU is not responsible or liable for any actions or decisions on behalf of their staff, their organization, or the actions or decisions of other HAAs. This MOU is not intended to, and shall not be construed to, shift the responsibility or liability from the HAA that is flying for any actions related to communication or flight coordination to anyone else. 2. In addition, HAAs acknowledge that this MOU is not intended, and shall not be construed to, create any rights or remedies in any person or legal entity that is not a party to it and none of the HAAs is waiving any defense or immunity to which it is entitled against any person or legal entity that is not a party to this MOU. 5 P A G E

6 3. AirLIFE FLTCOMM is not an Air-Traffic-Control but merely agrees to pass along known information regarding helicopter operations or NOTAM s that could affect helicopter operators. AirLIFE FLTCOMM Communicators are responsible for many other tasks in addition to what has been agreed to as the communication plan for this region. AirLIFE FLTCOMM will make every effort to comply with the agreements contained herein but should not be considered to be a replacement for Federal Aviation Regulations requirements for Pilots-in-Command. TERM This memorandum of understanding is in effect on the date on which it is signed and remains in effect for a period of three (3) years or until written notification is received revoking the Memorandum of Understanding with the STRAC AMPAG committee. All parties reserve the right to terminate this MOU at any time, with or without cause. Thirty (30) day written notification is required for termination of the MOU. Organization: Primary POC: Contact number: Senior Admin. POC: Contact number: CEO Name: Contact number: CEO Signature / / Date Signed 6 P A G E

7 Glossary: AMPAG Air Medical Provider Advisory Group which is a subcommittee of the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council. Its purpose is to provide a forum for interface between airmedical service providers and between air-medical service providers and EMS services. ATA refers to controlled air space or airspace of defined dimensions within which air traffic control service is provided to IFR flights and to VFR flights in accordance with the airspace classification. ATC Air Traffic Control; a service operated by appropriate authority to promote the safe, orderly and expeditious flow of air traffic. Call Sign a unique designation for a transmitting station. Example: Flight for Life 1 ETA estimated time of arrival (stated in Central Standard/Daylight Time in military format). ETE estimated time en route. Flight Plan an oral or written report to an air traffic control facility describing the route of a projected flight. FLTCOMM Flight Comm call sign used for San Antonio AirLIFE Flight Communications Center. GOM (program specific) General Operations Manual HAA Helicopter Air Ambulance IFR Instrument Flight Rules; rules governing the procedures for conducting instrument flight. Also a term used by pilots and controllers to indicate type of flight plan. MOU Memorandum of Understanding Nautical Mile a unit of distance that is approximately one minute of arc measured along any meridian. NOTAM Notice to Airmen; a notice containing information concerning the establishment, condition, or change in any component the timely knowledge of which is essential to personnel concerned with flight operations. PIC - Pilot in Command; the pilot responsible for the operation and safety of an aircraft during the flight time. PL Tone also known as Continuous Tone-Coded Squelch System (CTCSS) transmitted over radio frequency when the Push-to-Talk (PTT) is pressed; only radios, repeaters and base stations with matching PL Tones are able to hear and communicate with each other. 7 P A G E

8 STRAC Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Committee Uncontrolled Airspace an airspace where an Air Traffic Control service is not deemed necessary or cannot be provided for practical reasons. Unicom Universal Communications; common radio frequency used at uncontrolled (nontower) airports for local pilot communication. VFR Visual Flight Rules; rules governing the procedures for conducting flights under visual conditions. 8 P A G E

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