Safety Advisory Notice

To helicopter medical transport operators and hospital helicopter landing site operators

Medical transport operators should engage with the owners and operators of hospital helicopter landing sites to ensure local procedures are sufficient to mitigate the risk of rotorwash associated with larger aircraft.

What happened

The ATSB found that following the introduction of larger helicopters into medical transport operations, there has been an increase in rotor wash related injuries at hospital HLS.

Why did it happen

Flight crew were not aware of pedestrians in the vicinity of the hospital helicopter landing site at the time. If the recommended rotor wash exclusion area had been applied at each HLS, it would have reduced the risk of the pedestrians being injured.

Safety advisory notice

AD-2022-001-SAN-001: The Australian Transport Safety Bureau strongly encourages operators of hospital helicopter landing sites, and helicopter medical transport operators using those landing sites, work together to review the adequacy of existing risk controls to ensure pedestrians are adequately protected from the increased rotor wash associated with larger helicopters.

Managing the risk of rotor wash

From the identified common factors associated with rotor wash incidents, the flightpath is the only element that can be managed by the pilot in accordance with the operator’s procedures. However, pilots may be unaware of the presence of pedestrians in the vicinity of a hospital HLS. To enable the continued safe use of these facilities, hospital HLS owners and helicopter operators should ensure pedestrians are not affected by rotor wash by implementing appropriate risk controls for their HLS in addition to the helicopter operating procedures. Controls may include physical barriers, warning devices such as sirens, lights, high visibility warning signs, painted lines on nearby public thoroughfare to alert pedestrians to the rotor wash danger area, an inspection schedule for the HLS facility and surrounding area, and establishing a closed-loop reporting system.

Read more about this ATSB investigation: Downwash incidents at hospital helicopter landing sites.

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Safety Advisory Notice AD-2022-001-SAN-001