Earlier this summer, the NTSB asked the FAA to require helicopter manufactures to equip all new aircraft with crashworthy fuel systems. If history is any guide, we can expect the FAA to ignore that recommendation, despite that the FAA has known of the dangers posed by existing fuel system for decades.
But now Air Methods, one of the nation’s largest EMS helicopter operators, has committed to retrofit its entire fleet of more than 70 Airbus AS350 helicopters with fuel systems that don’t needlessly catch fire in a crash.
Air Methods is committed to retrofitting 100% of our Airbus AS350/EC130 (H125/H130) fleet, and we are working directly with a thried party who is seeking certification for a crash resistant fuel system for the entire Airbus line.. . . For us, it’s about doing the right thing."
The program will be costly. And Air Methods is taking the action entirely voluntarily. The FAA does not now require retrofitting, and it’s unlikely it ever will.
But, as Air Methods says, maybe it is about doing the right thing, rather than the most profitable thing. The question is, will other operators follow?