July - August 2004
The Puzzling Parts Aftermarket PMA + FAA + OEM + YOU
Managing Risk With Standards
Bird Strike Warning & Wisdom
Cardiovascular Conditions Affecting Certification
A Public Partnership St. Louis County's Shutdown and Revival
German Federal Border Police Aviation Group
The Puzzling Parts Aftermarket
PMA + FAA + OEM + YOU
By Lisa A. Wright
Given the potentially life-threatening consequences of an aircraft part that malfunctions or doesn’t perform, parts used in maintenance and repair are highly debated and regulated in America. The Federal Aviation Administration rules governing the manufacturing of aircraft parts has sparked a good deal of controversy over the years. Meanwhile, the differences between the original and PMA manufacturers are puzzling as each try to serve the aftermarket in their own unique ways.
The "parts aftermarket" evolved after World War II as a way to support out-of-production military surplus aircraft with needed parts. Feeding this small industry, parts makers began to occupy an obscure niche, with the Federal Aviation Administration taking little notice of it until the early 1990s.
As more manufacturers were introducing new models of aircraft, inventories of parts were in demand. A study of the parts market, the Comsis report, was issued in 1988 recommending the development of a more standardized approach for regulating aircraft parts. Later, the FAA commissioned its own task force resulting in the Suspected Unapproved Parts Program Office opening for business in 1995. Since then, this office has been responsible for promoting a cohesive, consistent, aggressive approach to identifying and removing unapproved parts from the aviation system, and they’ve been very successful.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Regulations that establishes the framework of rules governing the design, manufacture, and use of aviation products are found under FAR 21.303. These regulations, along with FAA surveillance, inspection, and enforcement activities, are the keys to maintaining the historically high level of safety of aircraft parts in America.
In addition to regulating the design and manufacture of aeronautical parts, the FAA regulates the individuals and organizations that use parts. Federal Aviation Regulations address training and certification of mechanics and repairmen, certification of repair stations,
and certification of air carriers —- all of which may perform maintenance.
The regulations also prescribe specific quality control and inspection procedures for certificate holders like repair stations, which include procedures to carefully inspect incoming materials and parts for authenticity and conformity with applicable standards.
What Is PMA Anyway?
PMA stands for parts manufacturer approval. PMA parts are generally categorized as replacement aircraft parts made by someone other than the original equipment manufacturer. OEMs are usually the original type and production certificate holders for aircraft, engines, accessories, and individual parts. The FAA is the regulatory body for all aircraft parts.
PMA is governed by a Federal Aviation Regulation (found in FAR 21.303). The rules permit anyone to make parts for any aircraft and sell those parts if they wish. The stipulations are that the manufacturing of the part has to take place in the United States and the parts must either duplicate the design of the original part or ensure that the replacement part matches or exceeds the original one by test and computation.
Only an aircraft part that can meet the airworthiness requirements of the Federal Aviation Regulations and provide the confidence necessary to assure the integrity of a system and operational safety is considered approved. When a company receives authority from the FAA to manufacture a PMA part, the FAA issues a "PMA Supplement" to document the approval.
In 1995, the FAA released Order 8110.42A, "Parts Manufacturing Approval Procedures," intended to guide FAA employees with applicants seeking a PMA (see chart on next page). The internal directive contained a number of ways to grant a PMA: applicants may present evidence of a licensing agreement with a type certificate holder; they may offer proof that its design is identical to the type certificate; they can submit test reports and computations; or they may be a party to the original certificate.
Many manufacturers, anxious to make money on their newer products, were initially grateful to place some of the aftermarket responsibility for their older models on other parts makers. Later, that move altered bottom lines when a decline in new sales led those same manufacturers to a greater dependence on their aftermarket support for revenue.
Once the PMA regulatory framework was better defined in 1995, the number of PMA’d parts exploded. In the early 1990s, for example, there were 40,000 line-items of parts data in the FAA database. Today, there are more than 250,000.
There are no restrictions on when PMAs may be obtained. Typically, parts manufacturers don’t seek a PMA until after a given fixed- or rotary-wing aircraft is at least ten years old. By that time, the aircraft is off warranty and there is a growing need for spare parts.
Manufacturers usually specialize in producing parts for one of several major systems, such as the engine. Primary subcontractors who deliver major systems like engines or wings to the OEM, in turn, subcontract much of the manufacturing activity to smaller contractors. Because of the many parts in the many different aircraft in service, even relatively small companies may manufacture a large number of parts or subassemblies.
In earlier years, "identicality" was the primary method for obtaining a PMA. Parts makers often accessed proprietary data and drawings that were made public record by military contracts to actually manufacture the needed part. The FAA rules say nothing about who owns the part design, but only that the replacement part be equivalent or better than the original.
Unless a PMA company has access to original drawings and blueprints from the OEM, they have to prove by test and computation that their parts are as good or better than the original. Some OEMs will license their data to PMA companies for a fee.
Jim Leslie of NAASCO explains, "If tests and computations or reverse engineering are used to obtain approval, the PMA holder must demonstrate that the part meets or exceeds the OEM part specifications it will replace. If identicality is used for approval, a licensing agreement with the OEM must be produced."
Over the years, the production of parts according to identicality has lessened, and test-and-computation methodology has grown considerably. Ten years ago, 90 percent of PMAs were obtained through identicality, according to Modification and Replacement Parts Association (MARPA), an association which represents a number of PMA parts manufacturers. Today, PMAs obtained through test and computation account for between 30 and 40 percent, according to the association.
As long as the PMA parts are approved by the FAA in either method, they can legally replace any OEM part that the PMA manufacturer wants to go to the trouble of creating.
"NAASCO Northeast’s main reason for obtaining PMA was to establish a niche market for our primary revenue component by offering operators improved reliability with a superior carbon brush for starter generators. At first, the OEMs of the end product didn’t take notice because our intention was (and still is) to only offer these parts in conjunction with our overhaul services," said Leslie. "But, when reliability of our units increased three to ten times that of the original parts, they (the OEM) were forced to improve their product to remain competitive."
Companies produce PMA parts on their own for a variety of reasons, including lack of support from the OEM/TCH (out of business, long lead times, insufficient technical data, etc.). They may also produce parts designed with durability and reliability improvements. "Competition is usually created when a company develops a PMA part that has historically only been available from the OEM since its original design. Naturally, since the OEM is the sole source for these products, pricing is determined by them including a sufficient markup to recoup the initial research and development costs. This opens the door for the PMA alternatives," said Leslie.
PMAs mean competition for the OEMs, as well as technical innovation. Typically, PMA parts are between 25 to 30 percent cheaper than OEM parts. "The PMA parts industry was created, in effect, by end-users, who felt they were being gouged by the OEMs on parts," said George Powell, co-founder of MARPA.
"Over the last decade, PMAs have transitioned from getting little recognition into getting worldwide attention," said Powell. "I’m probably one in a thousand who, while an OEM (former Bell employee), told my own company that PMAs by independents were very positive long term for the industry."
What usually happens is that when a PMA company introduces a part that competes with an OEM part, the OEM reduces its prices, just on that part, in order not to lose too much market share. If the OEM part works fine in that application, then the end result is lower costs to the operator, no matter which part they buy.
The OEM Investment
As the aviation industry, especially the helicopter industry, continues to mature and competition for business increases, OEMs have taken notice to the steady growth of PMA manufacturers. "The debate over PMA parts versus OEM parts is a heated one. Overall, OEMs view PMA parts strictly as healthy competition," said an anonymous OEM manufacturer.
"PMAers are often resented because they are able to take an OEM’s part, reverse engineer it, and then obtain FAA approval in order to sell it at a much cheaper price. The FAA doesn’t see any legal difference in the parts. This, of course, upsets the OEM who has spent countless hours and monies on research, development, and quality assurance, which has to be factored in to their price."
Another concern for OEMs is the fact that their name is on the primary product and the OEM is ultimately responsible for the aircraft, engine, or component that bears their brand name. Many rotorcraft PMAs are flight-critical or lifelimited. Some of the most critical components involve the power plant. That’s what particularly concerns rotorcraft OEMs, and may explain why they are far more protective of their design rights than their counterparts on the fixed-wing side, and less likely to embrace or even cooperate with PMA parts makers.
"The OEM is the design expert; therefore, they have the technical knowledge of your entire product, not just the part," said an OEM manufacturer. "When developing a part, the OEM is concerned with the part’s design limitations, weight, form and function not to mention fuel consumption rates, which affects the entire engine. The PMA manufacturer is not concerned with the overall product, so they aren’t taking all of these concerns into account when manufacturing the part. For this reason, most OEMs will consider their products warranty null and void if a customer purchases a PMA part and installs it on their engine.
This could ultimately affect the customer’s bottom line."
One practice that concerns manufacturers is when a repair station gets authority to repair a critical part that the OEMs say cannot be repaired and should be replaced with a new part. OEMs worry that if something goes wrong with the part, they will be held liable, not the PMA parts maker or repair stations.
Debate of Benefits
OEMs of fixed-wing aircraft have better accepted the viability of the PMA parts manufacturing industry. But their rotorcraft counterparts still view the concept of anyone manufacturing parts other than themselves or their approved vendors to be a threat to safety and the bottom line.
"Overall, the controversy is healthy in today’s highly competitive marketplace, which ultimately benefits the customer when it comes to price. However, when faced with the choice, you may want to consider who and what is backing that part," said an OEM. "The market has required the OEM to become more innovative, to determine what the operators needs are, and to find ways to fulfill those needs."
So why go to the OEM for your parts over the PMA manufacturer if they are making the same part and it is often cheaper? "The OEM offers more than just the part; they offer extensive support services such as field support, 24-hour service, training, service centers and technical documentation."
"PMA parts are very good for the industry, not so good for the OEM. Almost every operator of aircraft uses PMA parts whether they know it or not. From the largest major airline to the single helicopter operator all the way down to a Cessna 152 owner. PMAs are and will continue to be a major factor in reducing the cost of aircraft operation. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?" said Leslie.
In the United States, more than 1,500 companies manufacture aircraft parts (including engines) with combined annual revenue of about $4.5 billion, according to industry experts.
The PMA parts industry is growing at a very fast rate. Approximately every three months the FAA releases new data on PMA approvals. Typically, a quarterly release will contain about 15,000 new lines of data that is distilled into about 5,000 new parts. There will also be about 25 to 50 new companies added to the PMA holder list.
"Are we (the PMA market) hurting the OEMs? Not much. My best guess is about three percent of the spares sales are from PMAs, heading for about five percent in the next couple of years. But the impact goes way beyond that percentage," said Powell. "One reason is because of the threat of competition. PMA has now proven that all kinds of parts on the aircraft can be made by PMA.
The Future of Parts
The FAA and the industry are committed to improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the product certification process by trying to establish a clearer understanding of the needs and expectations of both parties involved.
The Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC) has recommended 34 changes to the FAA rules, addressing both manufacturing and engineering issues. According to MARPA, a new Subpart G is garnering strong interest and could dictate production quality requirements patterned after industry-standard quality systems. These rules would apply to any parts maker.
Jason Dickstein, government affairs representative and general counsel for the Aviation Suppliers Association, doesn’t expect changes anytime soon. "Even with the security issues that have come up since September 11," he explained, "this is not fundamentally a safety issue. Therefore, it won’t get as much FAA attention."
He believes, however, that the proposal will benefit the industry if it ever sees the light of day. "It makes it more clear," he said, "that PMA parts are supposed to have the same level of quality as any other part manufactured under FAA approval. This is the way the regulations read today, but the quality systems [for PMA versus OEM parts manufacturing] are in two different sections of the FARs."
On the Horizon
"PMA was not created to create competition, which isn’t mandated by FAA. It was implemented to promote safety regulations only," said a high-ranking FAA official. "The safety record of PMA parts are sound and good."
"Order 81142.B is being worked on now to further explain the process and clarify confusions. From the FAA’s perspective, the issue on PMA parts is black and white. It’s the same approval process for maintenance, manufacturers, repair stations, and maintenance personnel."
If a PMA company makes a part that the marketplace perceives as better, then some say the OEM should take notice and improve their own product accordingly. Alternatively, the OEM manufacturer could license design data to quality PMA companies and let them make all the little parts that are such a hassle to manufacture, distribute, and monitor, and spend the time and money saved on customer service and design improvements.
Industry experts say there are several important points to consider when choosing a PMA parts company. First, examine the professional background of the company. Look at the company’s parts manufacturing experience and record with the FAA. Also, consider the company’s financial stability and whether it has an engineering staff.
"It’s crucial that decision making with regards to aircraft parts be made based on dependability. Law enforcement aviation, as much as any other aspect of professional aviation, enjoys a mission-mix placing a premium on aircraft reliability," said Jay Fuller, former APSA Safety Coordinator. "We have lots of single engine operations, often at night or over urban environments, which demands the utmost of trustworthiness in our equipment. We can’t take any shortcuts with respect to their maintenance."
Managing Risk With Standards
By Keith Johnson
APSA Safety Coordinator
Standards define the roadmap for the way we operate. They dictate what unit missions are approved and the policies and procedures that apply to how we perform a mission. They include the Federal Aviation Regulations and the operator’s manual for the aircraft we fly. They define how we train. And, they are the foundation for a safe, effective and efficient aviation operation. /p>
Research has shown that if we simply obey the rules (standards), we can eliminate 80 percent of the most common accidents. From 1999-2003, 23 of our fellow members were killed and 66 were injured in 87 law enforcement aviation accidents. This is unacceptable by any standard. We can and must do better. It all begins with having reasonable standards and complying with the standards. If you set the standards too high, people will become frustrated because they may not be able to meet the standards. If you make them too low, some people will not perform up to their potential.
I have often heard people say that standards get in the way of getting the job done. Just the opposite is true. Standards help us to identify and manage risk, so we can get the job done. Failing to have and comply with standards is what can lead to 87 of our people being killed in as many accidents over a five-year period. There is no bad guy worth paying this price. Without standards and managing risk, the mission objective can often become impossible to achieve as evidenced by our accident record.
It is the responsibility of management to set standards. If management fails to set standards, people will set their own standards. Not what we want. We all need to know and follow the rules. Imagine what our society would be like without laws.
At this year’s Southeast Region Safety Seminar, I listened to speaker Mike Durant, pilot of the second "Blackhawk" shot down in Mogadishu, talk about standards. He stated, "Standards are the toughest nut to crack, but they are essential if you are going to successfully accomplish the mission."
Weather is one of the most significant factors in accident causation. There is no standard more important in law enforcement aviation than those pertaining to weather when it comes to saving lives. From 1999-2003, 10 of 23 law enforcement fatalities occurred when the weather was below VFR and/or at night. The average flight time of the pilots was 418 hours.
This should cause us to pause and consider aircrew experience when asking pilots to fly in marginal weather. When it comes to weather, you don’t always get a second chance.
What does this mean for supervisors and managers? We not only need standards for weather, but we should consider having even more conservative standards for less experienced aircrews. We should not assign inexperienced people to fly together during marginal weather. We should consider aborting the mission when we can’t find an experienced pilot during marginal or poor weather.
Supervisors should commend their people when they decide to abort a mission after weighing the risks against accomplishing the mission. We need to "catch people doing things right." This reinforces the standard for everyone in the organization.
Engine failures, loss of control and fuel exhaustion accounted for 15 of 23 fatal injuries from 1999-2003. When you’re going down or attempting to regain control of your aircraft, altitude and visibility mean everything. When the engine quits and you’re at 500-feet AGL and 60 knots over an airport runway with one-mile visibility, you may get your aircraft down well enough to walk away. But, that’s not usually when the engine will quit. The engine quits over narrow city streets or over unlit areas at night or over mountainous terrain. Anyone who has done a full touch down autorotation at night knows how demanding this can be. Think about that the next time you find yourself flying below 500-feet AGL responding to a call. When the engine quits your options are limited, and you only have a few seconds before you are on the ground. Remember the first rule of risk management, "Never take unnecessary risks."
Since most of our flight-time is over places other than airport runways, visibility and height above the ground can be the difference between surviving and not surviving. So many people have learned this lesson the hard way. There are no new causes of accidents, just different people making the same old mistakes. Every organization should have a weather standard for ceiling and visibility. In addition, all pilots who are required to fly at night should periodically train at night.
Standards save lives and prevent injuries and loss of or damage to equipment in the air and on the ground. We have a moral responsibility to operate in the safest manner possible. Our highest priority should be to return safely from every mission. The mission should always be subordinate to safety.
SSo, set and comply with your standards and you will be there to fly the next mission. That’s what matters most.
Warning & Wisdom
By Greg Brown
Sacramento (CA) Police Department
I’ve never crossed paths with Bigfoot. I’ve never swum alongside the Loch Ness Monster. And, in all of my life, I’ve not once borne witness to a flying saucer. Indeed, I’ve got little reason to believe that creatures like that even exist. But, on a recent dark and stormy night, I literally came face to face with a creature whose existence was, at the time, just as improbable in my mind as that of Sasquatch, Nessie, or little green men.
The creature that I speak of can inflict the damage of Bigfoot, is capable of hiding submerged in lakes or ponds like the Loch Ness Monster, and can fly invisible across the night sky like space aliens. It has thin bony legs with lobed toes, an elongated neck, and red eyes. And on that fateful, dark, and stormy night, a helicopter I was flying was practically swatted out of the sky by this ominous creature.
At the time of the incident, I had no idea what the creature I had encountered was called. But by pouring through an old dusty book entitled Demons and Myths, I have since been able to identify the improbable creature. There, between "Gargoyle"—a grotesque creature of human or animal form—and "Griffin"—a beast with the head and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion—was "Grebe"—a swimming bird slightly larger than a duck that dives below the water to feed on fish and migrates at night.
Actually, the book was a field guide to the Birds of North America, and the bird was a Western Grebe. But the rest of the story—the part where my life was threatened by a mid-air bird strike—is true.
On April 17, 2004, at 2130 hours, I was flying patrol over the city of Sacramento, California in a military surplus OH58 helicopter known as "Air One." I had been a member of the Sacramento Police Department Air Support Unit for three years at the time, having served as an observer for two years prior to obtaining my commercial rotor license. I had accumulated 1,200 hours of flight time. My observer that night was Officer Mark Zukowski, who had been with the unit for over a year. Mark had completed a helicopter ground school and had a good understanding of the principles of flight, but only had approximately 10 hours of flight training spread out over his time in the unit. In other words, he was not yet comfortable landing a helicopter without assistance.
As a somewhat new pilot, most of my flight knowledge came from books or from stories about the experiences of others. Fortunately, one thing that had always stuck with me was the possibility of a bird strike. My sergeant and my former pilot had always set a good example and emphasized the importance of wearing a flight helmet with the face shield down.
There had been some isolated showers passing through the area that day, but as night had fallen the skies began to clear. We were flying 700 AGL at 80 knots when suddenly there was a loud crash, and the right half of the windshield (pilot side) shattered, sending 80 percent of the Plexiglas windshield into the cockpit where it struck my face and chest. I quickly scanned the gauges and determined that the helicopter was still functioning.
Mark and I confirmed that, other than being a little cold, we were both okay. But communication over the intercom radio system was strained due to the wind blowing through the cockpit across my helmet microphone. I found myself leaning my head forward and tucking my chin down to partially shield my microphone from the wind. I told Mark that I believed we had suffered a bird strike and that I planned on flying back to our home airport, Mather Air Park, which was approximately eight nautical miles over residential neighborhoods. I slowed to 60 knots and headed for Mather.
Mark took over radio communication as the wind was perhaps not as bad on his side, and he was able to cup his hand over his microphone for transmissions. He communicated over an air-to-air frequency with a Sacramento County Sheriff’s helicopter. He explained our
situation and said that we were enroute to Mather. We then switched to the Mather tower frequency and overheard the Sacramento County Sheriff’s pilot, Deputy Bill Torrington, inform the tower of our circumstance and location. He explained that we were inbound for landing. He advised the tower that he had us in sight and would follow us in. The tower responded, "Air One…if you can hear me you’re clear to land."
I felt relieved at that point as I realized communication was no longer an issue. Mark radioed the tower anyway and was able to carry on a short conversation confirming that we did not need medical attention, and that our situation was not an emergency. We landed outside our hangar without further incident, and shut down.
Upon inspection of the helicopter, we were surprised to see that not only was the windshield destroyed, the fiberglass nose cone had a two and a half foot crack with a quarter inch separation as well. The upper rear plastic portion of the instrument panel was also damaged. There were traces of blood and smudge marks across the face shield and top of my helmet. The Grebe was located dead in the backseat. We determined from the evidence that the bird had come through the windshield, struck the instrument panel, and slid across my helmet into the backseat. The combination of the bird impacting the instrument panel and the fact that I had been wearing my helmet with the face shield down had prevented any injury.
Examining Other Bird Strike Incidents
Bird strike incidents are actually fairly common and can be serious. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, through an interagency agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration, compiles a database of all reported wildlife strikes involving civil aircraft in the United States. Over 6,100 bird strikes were reported in 2003. On top of that, an estimated 80 percent of bird strikes go unreported. More than 180 people have been killed as a result of bird strikes since 1995. When you consider that a 12-pound Canadian goose struck by an aircraft traveling at 150 miles per hour generates the same force as a 1,000-pound weight dropped from a height of 10 feet, it’s easy to realize that bird strikes are hazardous to even the largest aircraft. Consider these examples.
206B MAR 1981
Bird penetrated the windscreen and hit the pilot in the face. Pilot was incapacitated. High-speed impact into trees. Autopsy showed bird remains (raven) on pilot’s face. Believe he was incapacitated or killed outright. Pilot had 16,862 hours total flight time, 9,619 hours in type.
B727 JAN 1998
Aircraft was climbing through 6,000 feet when a flock of snow geese was encountered. Three to five birds were ingested. Engine lost all power and was destroyed, radome was torn from the aircraft and leading edges of both wings were damaged, pitot tube for first officer was torn off. Intense vibration in airframe and noise level in cockpit increased to the point that communication was difficult. Emergency was declared. Flight returned safely to airport.
AH-1W JAN 2000
An estimated nine-pound eagle hit the aircraft main rotor blades. The bird was cut in half and hit the vertical fin and tail rotor drive shaft cover. The drive shaft was scored and failed. The aircraft was autorotated. Crew egressed.
407 JAN 2000
The aircraft was approaching the airport when it collided with a buzzard. The bird penetrated the pilot’s windshield, hitting the pilot in the face and knocking him out. Pilot slumped over the controls preventing the copilot from gaining full control. Copilot tried to gain control, but the aircraft crash-landed and slid down a steep slope. No post crash fire.
206L1 MAR 2001
At 500 feet AGL on approach to a hospital landing pad, a duck impacted and broke through the left windscreen. The copilot received facial cuts and was partially incapacitated due to blood in his eyes. The pilot landed the aircraft without any further damage. Aircraft was at 80 mph. Duck was five pounds and came to rest on the stretcher next to the patient.
Bombardier Dash 8 OCT 2002
Pilot saw a large flock of birds and disengaged the autopilot to try to avoid them, but several hit with a big thud. Aircraft handled normally and landed without incident. At the gate, a bird was found protruding from the wing, and fuel was leaking out running down the wing. Another hole was found at the base of the vertical stabilizer. The engine was starting to smoke where the fuel was running down into it.
TH-67 SEP 2003
The aircraft was in cruise at 1,400 feet AGL when a buzzard hit and penetrated the left-hand windscreen. The instructor pilot was incapacitated. Student pilot with 31 hours total time regained aircraft control after losing 500 feet. The instructor pilot had fallen against the cyclic pushing it right and forward. Second pilot pulled the instructor pilot back off the controls until the aircraft was landed. The instructor pilot suffered a broken jaw and teeth, a split palate, broken nose, crushed sinus cavity, cracked sternum, and broken clavicle.
Cessna 152 OCT 2003
A Cessna 152 experienced a bird strike, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing. VMC conditions prevailed at the time. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was found inverted; a quarter of the windshield was recovered. A bird was found in the airplane. The instructor stated that the student was practicing ground reference maneuvers at about 1,000 feet AGL at an indicated airspeed of 90 knots. While coming out of a left turn, a sudden noise followed by debris was felt in the cockpit. The instructor stated that the airplane was missing the windshield and he could not maintain altitude after applying full throttle. The airplane impacted a field nose first and came to a halt inverted. The instructor and student suffered minor injuries.
Lessons To Be Learned
If and when a bird strike occurs, the pilot should land as soon as is practical to inspect the aircraft. The damage may be more severe than expected, as was the case in the examples of the scored tail rotor drive shaft, and the fuel leak from the wing.
Several of the examples show pilots that were incapacitated by birds and debris entering the cockpit through the windscreen. A helmet with the face shield down affords the pilot much more protection than a headset and glasses. Should the pilot be incapacitated despite protective measures, a second pilot even with minimal flight training can prevent the tragedy from escalating. Our observers and tactical flight officers should be trained to operate the aviation radios, navigate to the nearest airport, and make safe landings.
Cardiovascular Conditions Affecting Certification
By Ronald W. Case
M.D., FACS, AME
Cardiovascular disease is a disease resulting from lifestyle, and therefore, is largely preventable. In the past 15 years, deaths from heart attacks have been reduced by 25 percent and from strokes by 50 percent. These dramatic decreases have been attributed to exercise (the fitness movement), improved diets, control of hypertension, and decreased smoking.
Our stressful, almost-mad lifestyle, unfortunately, has not changed much. Thus, conditions resulting from cardiovascular disease can in no way be prevented across the board. For this reason, it is important that we understand the conditions that will inevitably arise in association with cardiovascular disease and be aware of the risks that go along with them.
Many airmen, specifically, seem to be unaware of some of the cardiovascular conditions that are disqualifying for their medical certification. Adhering to Federal Aviation Administration requirements, airmen with any of the following conditions are not to be issued medical certificates:
• Angina pectoris (heart pain)
• Coronary artery disease (clinically significant)
• Myocardial infarction (heart attack)
• Cardiac valve replacement
• Permanent cardiac pacemaker
• Heart transplant
Airmen of any class physical reporting for an initial FAA examination with any of these conditions, no matter when they have been experienced in the past, are not initially given a medical certificate. It is mandatory that their examination be referred to the Aero Medical Certification Division (AMCD). The airman can obtain a Special Issuance Authorization letter, with a PI number issuance from previous medical examinations that will tell both the pilot and the aviation medical examiner what is required for re-examination and if issue is allowed.
No special issuance will be given any earlier than six months after a cardiac event. After that six-month period, special issuance will only be given when it is demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Federal Air Surgeon that the airman will be safe to fly for the duration of the medical certificate. All of the pertinent medical records of the event must be provided. This includes admission note, discharge summary, operative reports, cardiac catheterization reports, up to date physical examination by the treating physician, and recent laboratory work.
For first and second-class medical certification of airmen with any of the coronary artery disease-related conditions, a six-month, post-event maximal Bruce Protocol Radionucleide Stress Test is required. The treating physician must also provide the current status of the cardiac condition, along with the current status of the airman’s serum cholesterol, triglyceride, HDL, LDL, and fasting blood sugar levels. Elevations in cholesterol are directly related to the risk of having a heart attack.
For a third class medical, all of the medical records required for a first and second class medical will be needed, as well as the same six-month observation period. The cardiovascular evaluation is to include the lipid panel and fasting blood sugar from the treating physician and a maximal Bruce Protocol Stress Test without the radionucleide stress test.
As for the treadmill stress test, in all classes, 100 percent of maximal heart rate is to be reached. The pilot is to be off any beta-blockers, calcium channel agents, or digitalis preparations for the test.
The special issuance medical certificate is valid only for a specified time. The airman will receive a letter that will include a PI number, an outline of what must be submitted to the AME or directly to the Federal Aviation Administration Civil Aerospace Medical Institute in Oklahoma City, and a deadline for submission.
It is advisable that all the information be submitted in the exact form and order required; not the way the cardiologist thinks it should be done. Otherwise, there can be significant delays in processing the paperwork. Special issuance of medical certificates currently takes an average of three to four months to obtain.
For more information, you may write to the Aerospace Medical Certification Division, AAM-300, Federal Aviation Administration Civil Aerospace Medical Institute, P.O. Box 25082, Oklahoma City, OK 73125.
For every 1% that high levels of cholesterol are reduced, your risk of heart disease is lowered by 2%.
How much exercise do you really need?
Pilots like numbers, so here is the conventional wisdom from the experts: An absolute minimum of 20 to 30 minutes a day of
exercise, three to four times a week. The
optimum is 30 to 45 minutes of moderately vigorous exercise most days.
How can I get a copy of everything the FAA has in my medical and pilot files?
For $10, you can receive a copy of everything in your FAA file. Procedures are described at http://registry.faa.gov/airmen.asp#ObtainCopy. Here, you will also find a form to help you make your request. While you cannot submit the form online, you can print the form or fill it out online before printing it.
A Public Partnership
St. Louis County's Shutdown and Revival
By Derek Lee Dunmire
St. Louis County Air Support Chief Pilot
As felt throughout the law enforcement community, budget and economic factors greatly influence high output police operations such as aviation. The Air Support Unit of St. Louis County (Missouri) began experiencing difficult financial issues last year and faced ultimate extinction if these problems could not be quickly remedied.
In August of 2003, the St. Louis (MO) County Aviation Unit’s fuel budget was suddenly cut and the firmly established and effective aerial patrols were forced to modify into a "firehouse" operation that only allowed response to calls for service. This resulted in an immediate and substantial reduction in officer safety and aerial patrol coverage of the area at a time when heightened homeland security concerns had been at their highest levels.
Since September 11, 2001, the unit had been tasked with the increased patrol of areas deemed by the Department of Homeland Security as "targets of opportunity" for terrorist attack. Bridges, critical infrastructure, historical landmarks, power plants, economically critical businesses, defense contractors and stadiums all had been added to the daily patrol activities of the aircrews.
Under the leadership of Lieutenant Kurt Frisz, the unit began to seek out progressive approaches to maintain the police department’s rich aviation heritage. After speaking with several community, government, and business leaders in search of a solution, the unit decided to develop a sponsorship program. It would provide the opportunity for the numerous small businesses and large corporations in the St. Louis Metropolitan area to become actively involved in the airborne law enforcement program by sponsoring the unit’s operations through donations of monetary assistance and services.
Surco Manufacturing was the first corporation on board. The owner, David Surkamp, knew firsthand the capabilities of the unit as his son had fallen more than 130 feet from the side of a cliff during the summer of 2003. The aviation unit’s crew responded to this nighttime rescue with precision and delivered the 21-year-old to safety. "After the accident, I certainly realized how important aviation is to protect the citizens of our community. The helicopter can simply do things that can’t be done from the ground. When I heard the aviation unit was in financial trouble, I wanted to help," said Surkamp.
Members of the unit began to meet weekly with corporations throughout the St. Louis Metropolitan area giving presentations on their sponsorship program. "We have spoken very candidly about our budgetary constraints and emphasize that without continued support through monetary donations or otherwise, we will have tremendous difficulty providing the overwhelmingly effective tool of patrols of the economic centers or continued efforts to increase the level of safety of the
officers," explained Frisz.
"With the tragic events of September 11, our mission has changed. We have taken on greater responsibilities and expanded our coverage. The business owners understand that the emphasis of law enforcement as a whole has had to evolve and have been willing to become more active participants. In the beginning of our efforts, we believed that some businesses would participate for self-serving reasons (advertising, etc.), but we have found that every business we have contacted wants nothing in return. No public recognition; no advertising; and nothing other than joining the effort to prevent another attack, and further the safety of officers in the beats."
As a result of these efforts, on January 1, 2004, the Air Support Unit was able to return to their aggressive daily aerial patrols. The unit is now establishing a charitable foundation to ensure that the financial support will continue to be dedicated to the Air Support Unit.
While our county department was experiencing budget cuts, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department’s Aviation Unit was also experiencing operational difficulties. While others perceived these issues to be threatening to the very life of the unit, Lieutenant Frisz only saw opportunities for increasing the aerial services available to the officers riding some of the most dangerous streets in our country. The unit began to make contacts with supervisors and commanders at St. Louis County, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, and the St. Charles County Sheriff’s Department and suggested that the department investigate the reorganization of the area’s air assets into a regional approach to airborne law enforcement.
In March of 2004, the St. Louis County Police Department and St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department’s Board of Police Commissioners, agreed to develop a regional air support unit. With the recommended reorganization of the region’s law enforcement air assets, airborne law enforcement in the region has not only been saved, but also greatly expanded. As of this writing, the regional air support unit has been continuing to develop and may include a third department, the St. Charles County Sheriff’s Department. With the addition of this third department, the Air Support Unit’s patrol area will have increased to approximately 1,300 square miles with a population of 2.5 million people.
With the previously utilized schedule and manpower, the St. Louis County Police Department was able to provide approximately 23 percent aerial coverage throughout a calendar year. The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department’s one OH-58 and one crew was able to provide 11 percent coverage and the St. Charles County Sheriff’s Department had no operational air support. Through the combining of resources and financial commitments, the unit will be able to provide 100 percent on-call coverage (weather permitting) and 70 percent patrol coverage.
Once fully operational, the unit will include eight police personnel to provide four full time crews available for helicopter or airplane assignments. The unit will also increase from one full-time mechanic to two. The management of the unit will remain under the supervision of the Tactical Operations Lieutenant who will have dual responsibilities with command of the St. Louis County Tactical Operations Unit (SWAT Team) and the regional Air Support Unit. The contributions from the three participating agencies will provide funding for a 3,000-hour operating budget.
In order to be as fiscally responsible as possible, various methods of providing aerial services are being developed. There may be a possibility of a mixed fleet of turbine and piston powered aircraft such as the Schweizer 300 series helicopters. Administrators are also continuing to increase the use of the fixed-wing as more than just a surveillance aircraft by utilizing it as a mobile command vehicle and dispatch platform to "quarterback" the ongoing patrol responsibilities.
While the current fleet of five helicopters and one fixed-wing has served the unit well since acquiring the turbine powered MD500 in 1985, these aircraft have reached well over 10,000 hours of operational experience. The unit is exploring additional funding sources to institute a replacement program to provide for the acquisition of a new aircraft every four years through purchase or muni-lease agreement. One such source of funding that is being investigated would be generated by placing an additional $1 cost on fee-based services that each department provides through citations, summons, record checks, police report requests, and burglar alarm activations. This will provide the financial means for the implementation of a replacement program.
Although the creation of a charitable foundation, reorganization of regional assets, and contributions from various businesses and organizations have already provided the means necessary to improve airborne law enforcement in the greater St. Louis area, the work is only just beginning. The unit’s survival is dependent upon the continued commitment of a public-private partnership and the dedication of the personnel assigned to the unit.
With aggressive patrol strategies and implementation of the developing concepts of aerial patrol, the future is in the hands of the individual crewmembers to continue to provide the productive patrol of our area. Our best advertising comes from within our own unit’s production and ability to successfully deter and prevent criminal activities.
A Tradition of Excellence
Since 1971, the Air Support Unit of St. Louis County has performed with professionalism in its mission to provide an unparalleled aerial response to search and locate lost children and elderly, rescue victims of the Great Flood of 1993, ensure the safety of police officers riding in our streets, and prevent and deter criminal activities.
In 1999, the Saint Louis County Police Department, Chesterfield and Metro-West Fire Departments developed the Special Operations Aviation Rescue Team (S.O.A.R). This rescue capability has been developed to provide the entire region with an increased response capability to swift-water, confined area, and high-rise rescue missions. This increased capability has resulted in no cost to the citizens for which the team was developed. The team has the ability to rescue individuals stranded on burning buildings, adrift in the many waterways surrounding our area, injured in locations inaccessible to vehicles, and victims of terrorist attack.
Bundesgrenzschutz - Fliegergruppe
German Federal Border Police Aviation Group
By Doug Abney
Los Angeles (CA) Police Department
Europe’s largest non-military law enforcement aviation agency is the Bundesgrenzschutz Aviation Group (BGS). This aviation organization performs a very significant role in maintaining the security of Germany, particularly in combating the worldwide threats of terrorism that exist today.
BGS Aviation Group is one of the specialized units within Bundesgrenzschutz, the Federal Border Police. BGS organizationally falls under the Federal Ministry of Interior Affairs. The Aviation Group headquarters is located in the western part of Germany in the city of Sankt Augustin, which is located southeast of the major city Koln. Within the headquarters are the following sections: Operations, Technique, Education/Training, Administration, and Quality Management. Sankt Augustin is also the home of the border police’s Aviation School and Central Maintenance Squadron.
There are five flying squadrons dispersed throughout Germany simply named: BGS Squadrons West, South, East, Central, and North. Over 700 personnel are assigned to the BGS Aviation Group, including 180 pilots, 121 flight technicians, and 175 mechanics. A total of 102 helicopters of seven different types comprise the fleet. However, a study is currently underway to reduce the number of helicopter types flown from seven to three. The advantages of flying fewer types, such as reduced maintenance and training expenses, are substantial.
The BGS Aviation Group is tasked with performing a number of missions vital to the security of Germany and its residents. To get an idea of the extent of these tasks, it is important to note the sheer amount of border that the BGS is required to police. Germany shares a 2,300 mile long land border with nine other countries: Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Denmark. Additionally, Germany has over 1,500 miles of coastline on the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.
During a recent trip to Berlin, Germany to attend the 2004 International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition and Conference, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to visit Bundesgrenzschutzfliegerstaffel Ost, the BGS Aviation Squadron East. This squadron is located in Blumberg, about 30 kilometers northeast of Berlin. Prior to the fall of the wall surrounding Berlin and dividing East and West Germany in November of 1989, Blumberg was part of East Germany. Blumberg is a small, tranquil town surrounded by dense forests and fertile farmland. The BGS Squadron East occupies a very modern building with an adjacent, expansive heliport, large maintenance hangars, and control tower, which were completed in 1998.
To the west of the heliport are several very tall, majestic windmills that generate some of the electricity for the nearby area. Security measures around the facility are extensive. Prior to occupying this facility, BGS East was based at Berlin’s Templehof Airport. This is the airport made famous during the Berlin Airlift of 1948 and 1949, when thousands of United States, French, and British Air Force flights brought food and badly needed supplies into the beleaguered, cut-off city of West Berlin. The Germans affectionately referred to the US Air Force C-47, C-54, and DC-4 airplanes as "rosinen bomber," meaning raisin bombers, for carrying the food that saved their lives. Stalin’s attempt to starve and freeze the people of West Berlin was defeated.
During my visit, I met the commanding officer of the unit, Colonel Karl-Heinz Schenk. He has been a member of BGS since 1977 and a pilot since 1981. Under his command are 115 personnel, including 27 pilots, 20 flight technicians, 28 mechanics, and 39 support personnel. He has responsibility for eighteen helicopters in six types: the EC 135, EC 155, BO 105 CBS S5, Alouette SA 318C, Super Puma AS 332, and Puma SA 330. On January 1, 2004, he was given additional responsibility for the flight operations of the Berlin City Police Air Support Unit. At that time, the BGS Squadron East and the Berlin City Police Air Unit formed an alliance to work together to support Federal and Berlin City Police missions in the capitol of Germany more efficiently and cost-effectively.
The assistant commanding officer of the BGS East is Captain Thomas Hochstein. He joined the BGS in 1977. After completing four years of service, he was selected to attend flight school in 1981 and has been a pilot in the BGS for over 23 years. Prior to his current assignment as assistant commanding officer, he was a pilot for ten years at BGS Squadron North, based in Fuhlendorf. Colonel Schenk, Captain Hochstein, and Captain Hartmut Ziep, who handles administrative matters for the Berlin City Police Air Support unit, and Officer Romy Siedel gave me a thorough tour of their facility and a very informative briefing on the operations of BGS Aviation Group and BGS Flight Squadron East, in particular.
Assistant Commanding Officer Hochstein explained the requirements to become a pilot or flight technician in the BGS Aviation Group. First, interested personnel must be accepted to the BGS Academy. Once a person is accepted, they must attend a resident academy that is 105 to 126 weeks in duration. Upon successful completion of all aspects of this rigorous training program and graduation from the BGS Academy, personnel are sent to various assignments throughout the country.
Personnel who wish to specialize in a career as a pilot may apply for acceptance to BGS Flight School. Only the best and most highly motivated are selected to attend flight school. Flight school is a 66 week resident flight training program based in Sankt Augustin. Pilot candidates receive extensive classroom, technical and flight instruction. Flight training is given first in the single engine turbine Alouette SA 318C helicopter. After becoming proficient flying the Alouette, pilots transition to the EC 135 twin- engine police helicopter.
Upon satisfactory completion of all phases of flight training, the average student will accumulate 240 hours of dual flight and 50 hours of solo flight. Students graduate with a Commercial Helicopter Pilot Certificate, including NVG- Operations with a Twin Engine Helicopter rating (EC 135). Pilots are then assigned as co-pilots in one of the five squadrons to receive further training and gain operational experience.
Upon reaching a satisfactory operational experience level of between 100 and 150 flight hours on a variety of police missions, they will be checked out by instructors of BGS Flight School as Pilots-in-Command. With a total flight experience of 800 flight hours in command, many BGS pilots attend a 40-week long Instrument Flight Training program given at BGS Flight School. After completing this school and passing all the relevant tests, they receive an Air Transport Pilot Helicopter (ATPL-H) certificate with additional mission ratings on transport helicopters Bell 212, EC 155, SA 330 PUMA and/or AS 332 Super PUMA. Most pilots have two or three type ratings, which allows the squadrons to perform any mission in any of their helicopters very effectively.
BGS officers who desire to become Flight Technicians also attend 66 weeks of training concurrently with the pilot training at the BGS Fight School. This training program consists of extensive classroom, flight and technician instruction in maintenance. The average Flight Technician student will accumulate 180 flight hours, 1,000 hours of classroom instruction, and 1,300 hours of technical instruction and "hands-on" maintenance training. Technical preparation, maintenance inspection, aircraft systems, proper use of police mission equipment, navigation, communications, and mission assistance are the essentials of the flight technician’s job profile.
All pilots and flight technicians attend additional Crew Coordination and Crew Resource Management Training, which is renewed every three years. This extensive training program provides a solid foundation that ensures a high level of proficiency, mission operational readiness and success, and flight safety.
Flight Squadron East has responsibility for operating crew and helicopters from two satellite heliports at Chemnitz and Bautzen, located along Germany’s eastern border with Poland and Czechoslovakia. Aircrews are assigned to these outlying posts on a rotational basis for a one-week period. Their principal duties include border surveillance to fight illegal immigration and criminal investigation of all illegal and criminal border crossing activities in combined air and ground operations. These operations are conducted in cooperation with several border police authorities from Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia.
Germany has established a unique and impressive network of 52 helicopter Emergency Medical Service Stations. These stations are spaced every 50 to 70 kilometers to provide nearly 100 percent overlapping helicopter medical/rescue coverage throughout Germany. Responsibility for providing the aircrews and helicopters is divided among a combination of government and civil organizations: the BGS, German Army, ADAC (German Automobile Club), IFA (International Flight Ambulance), and German Air Rescue. The cost of operating these stations is borne by private insurance companies and the government. The BGS currently has responsibility for operating 16 of these stations. Twenty-two twin-engine BO 105 helicopters are committed to these life-saving missions.
BGS Flying Squadron East supplies aircrews and helicopters to operate two of these 16 stations in Brandenburg and Dresden. For the police pilots of BGS, the EMS operation is an essential training program which provides the crews with a variety of challenging flying experiences and increased flight hours paid completely by the insurance agencies.
Every two years, pilots of the SA 330 Puma, AS 332 Super Puma, and Bell 212 attend schools in neighboring countries for refresher VFR, IFR, and emergency procedures training, which includes using a simulator. The training for SA 330 Puma pilots occurs at the French Army Base Arienne Training Center in Toulouse, France. The Super Puma pilots go to the Swiss Air Force Training Center in Emmen, and the Bell 212 pilots attend training at the SAS Flight Academy in Stockholm.
Each squadron conducts their own specialized mission oriented training during the year. Commanding Officer Schenk puts his squadron through approximately 100 to 150 hours of specialized training in preparation for specific missions such as fire-fighting, air rescue, use of mission equipment such as FLIR, and tactical operations with special police units such as the world renowned Grenzschutzgruppe 9, commonly known as GSG 9.
All BGS pilots take check rides every twelve months in every helicopter type they are rated to fly. The check ride includes demonstration of proficiency in all missions, the use of night vision goggles (NVG), and IFR flight and procedures. Pilots also take a multiple choice written test on every aircraft they fly. In order to maintain standardization throughout the BGS Aviation Group, all check rides are performed under the supervision and authority of instructor pilots from the BGS Flight School.
Within BGS Squadron East, Assistant Commanding Officer Hochstein has the additional duty of monitoring currency among all pilots and flight technicians. Several "master" pilots who hold the highest type ratings and have the most experience in each aircraft assist him in accomplishing this task. These master pilots perform the duties performed by the chief pilot common to most law enforcement aviation units in the United States.
In January of 2004, BGS Squadron East and the Berlin Police entered into a unique cooperative agreement to share the expenses of purchasing and operating a new EC 135 twin-engine helicopter.
Each agency paid half of the initial acquisition cost. A mixed crew consisting of one BGS pilot or flight technician and one Berlin Police pilot or flight technician operate the aircraft. Berlin Police Pilot Hartmut Ziep and Flight Technician Thomas Kennin explained that this new working relationship has proved to be mutually beneficial. Due to tight budgetary conditions similar to those being experienced by many US police departments, the Berlin Police Department was unable to afford the expense of a new helicopter. This arrangement gives the Berlin Police a helicopter to use for a variety of police missions.
It was very obvious during my visit to the BGS Squadron East that the personnel were highly trained, very motivated, and prepared to handle the many diverse missions they are assigned.