Helicopter engines are extremely reliable, but on occasion, they fail. If it's night or you are over hazardous terrain when your single engine fails, you are going to get hurt - or worse. That's why having two engines is a good idea.
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 helipad 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 the 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.
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. Single-engine IFR is 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.
Today, the passengers, who are also patients, are not able to ask questions about the aircraft they are being shoved into. There is no "truth in transport" requirement to tell patients or family members the risks and options available. But that is coming.
Changing reimbursements must be reasonable and thought out. There are two mechanisms for doing this, grandfathering or sun-setting.