AR helicopter crash prompts FAA to propose new rules

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - The Federal Aviation Administration is proposing stricter flight rules for helicopters, including many to increase safety for medical helicopters after recent fatal accidents in Arkansas, Oklahoma and other states.

The proposal announced yesterday includes a requirement that all air ambulance helicopters be equipped with an electronic system that warns of terrain or other obstacles. The proposal also would require pilots commanding medical helicopters to be certified to fly using instruments.

Twenty-four people died in six accidents in 2008, the deadliest year ever for medical helicopter crashes.  In August, a pilot, flight nurse and flight paramedic were killed in a crash in central Arkansas, and a pilot and flight nurse died in a crash in July about 45 miles northwest of Oklahoma City.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)