• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Instagram
  • Youtube
Helicopter Flight Training Sponsors

National EMS Pilots Association AO21 Survey Results

Posted 13 years 147 days ago ago by Admin

This is a preliminary report of a survey completed by 568 active helicopter EMS pilots in September and October of 2010. The solicitation to pilots to participate in this survey included the following introductory statement:

In an attempt to curb the accident rate in helicopter EMS (HEMS) night operations, the FAA implemented a revision to Operations Specification A021 last year which slightly raised the minimum ceiling and visibility requirements for night HEMS operations. The revision also added a pre-flight requirement to calculate and to observe a minimum en route cruise altitude for all HEMS flights, both day and night.

In a preliminary discussion forum on the website of the National EMS Pilots Association, many industry pilots expressed their opinions regarding the appropriateness and the effectiveness of this approach to mitigating the risks associated with night HEMS operations. Based on that feedback, NEMSPA is now implementing a more formal survey to gather the expert opinions of air medical helicopter pilots regarding the effectiveness of the revised OpSpec A021. The information presented below includes only a brief comment on each response. A more detailed analysis of the data will be available for review and download on the NEMSPA website in November 2010.

Pilots were assured their individual submissions were confidential. In fact, no information was collected that could provide means for identification.


Less than 30 years 2.5%
31-40 years 11.3%
41-50 years 32.9%
51-60 years 34.5%
More than 60 years 18.8%

Total Flight Time
Less than 2,000 hours 0.5%
2,000-4,000 hours 20.2%
4,000-6,000 hours 27.9%
More than 6,000 hours 51.4%

Experience as Air Medical Pilot
Less than 2 years 10.4%
2-4 years 14.8%
4-10 years 38.5%
More than 10 years 38.5%

Pilots who file IFR Flight Plans
Never or hardly ever 78.7%
Sometimes 18.2%
About half of the time 2.5%
Most of the time 0.5%
Nearly always 0.2%

Typical Terrain

Mountainous areas 33.4%
Non mountainous areas 66.6%


Q. Do your operator’s visibility minimums mirror those in A021? When asked how closely their specific visibility minimums mirrored those required by A021, the pilots answered as follows (“strongly agree” indicates a close correlation):

Strongly Disagree 7.9%
Disagree 4.5%
Neither Agree or Disagree 3.1%
Agree 39.0%
Strongly Agree 45.4%
Nearly 85% indicated their company minimums aligned closely with A021.

Q. The increased visibility minimums required by A021 have improved the safety of our program.
Approximately 44% believe, or strongly believe that the higher visibility requirements have improved safety. More than 25% believe that safety has not been improved, and the remaining pilots (about 30%) do not have an opinion.