But they do fail.
LAKE CITY, AR – The Air-Evac rescue team in Lake City walked away unharmed after a hard landing late Wednesday night.
According to Air-Evac, the rescue helicopter was on final approach to their base when they suffered an engine malfunction.
The pilot was able to set the helicopter down close to the heli-pad in what they called a hard landing.
No one was injured in the landing, but the helicopter did receive minor damage.
The crew does have a spare helicopter on scene, so no services will be disrupted.
Air-Evac says the incident is being looked into, and the damaged helicopter will be sent off for repairs.
Last year, two different helicopter companies had single engine helicopters crash on the same day after suffering loss of power from their one available engine. Because turbines DO fail, airliners have at least two engines available for safety and redundancy. We take it for granted that multiple engines are part of the picture on a big jet, but not on a helicopter, because many people don't understand how helicopters work, or what their limitations are.
The other benefit of having two motors in HEMS is that we can then legally (and rationally) fly in the clouds - with an autopilot and pilot training. There is a proposal in the works for reforms to allow single-engine helicopters to fly under instrument flight rules (IFR), or in the clouds. This would help create pilots who are better trained for inadvertent cloud encounters (inadvertent instrument meteorological conditions or IIMC), and would doubtlessly reduce the instances of pilots pushing down on the collective and descending after flying into fog or cloud or heavy rain. It's much better to pull up and climb to safety, focusing on flight instruments for spatial orientation. But an untrained pilot will almost always go down and they frequently crash after a rapid descent.
With single engine IFR we still have the problem of one motor. If we are in the clouds and that one motor quits, we can't glide very far - maybe a half mile per thousand feet up - and we might not like the landing area underneath us. In my opinion, single-engine IFR is great as an added capability for a program that is predominantly restricted to visual flight conditions- because it offers a legal and sensible way to recover from a hazardous situation. But for real confidence in the clouds, two motors are better than one.
In the HEMS world the passengers, who are also patients, are usually not in a condition to ask questions about the crews or aircraft they are being shoved into. While some county EMS directors are aware of the differences between companies and the aircraft and crews they bring to the scenes, and are selective on whom they will call, the vast majority of times the call is for a "helicopter," and the nearest one gets the call.
The $2.6 million facility includes 12,000 square feet of hangar space and over 7,000 square feet of office space. It can hold either six twin-blade helicopters, four multi-blade helicopters, or four twin-blade helicopters and one fixed wing aircraft.The four American Eurocopter EC 145 helicopters housed within the facility were a much needed upgrade in the summer of 2012. OSF Aviation also has its own Part 135 Certificate from the FAA.)