USHST Summit Illuminates Helicopter IFR Issues

Post by Alyce Shingler on September 20, 2023, updated on November 22, 2023

U.S. Helicopter Safety Team summit presses for wider adaptation of weather cameras, FAA reforms

By MARK HUBER • Contributor – Rotorcraft

September 19, 2023

The important role of weather cameras in helicopter safety was reaffirmed at the recent U.S. Helicopter Safety Team (USHST) Copter/IFR Weather Camera Program Summit, which was held at the headquarters of the Helicopter Association International (HAI). “Our participants experienced a day of learning, identifying problems, and shared experiences as it relates to copter IFR,” said Chris Baur of Hughes Aerospace, USHST industry co-chair.

Summit presenters noted that weather cameras in Alaska have produced an 80 percent reduction in the accident rate. However, weather camera usage in the Lower 48 is scarce and they are urging Congress to fund weather camera implementation in all U.S. states.

In addition, presenters pointed out that the current monopoly on National Weather Service-approved weather sourcing does not meet the needs of the aviation industry. They stressed that advisory weather and weather camera images must be accessible to pilots via ADS-B and wireless electronic flight bag platforms.

They also said the FAA policy allowing for the use of LNAV minimums only for alternate planning purposes negatively impacts accessibility to preferred aerodromes.

And, finally, they said the inclusion of all instrument flight procedures into FAA digital repositories, particularly the 28-day National Airspace System Resource, is essential to allow ease of access to IFR infrastructure. The exclusion and bureaucratic delays in the adaptation of special instrument departures and airways create unnecessary challenges, they added.