In 2009, in an effort to remain at the forefront and set the standard for safety in Helicopter Air Ambulance operations, STAR Flight equipped all aircraft with Helicopter Terrain Awareness and Warning Systems (HTAWS) as recommended by the NTSB. This decision was made well in advance of the 2015 FAA mandate requiring Helicopter Air Ambulances to be equipped with HTAWS by April 24, 2017.

HTAWS provides early, audible warning signals when the helicopter nears or approaches terrain features such as radio towers, buildings, or the ground (sometimes referred to as the "edges of the sky"). When approaching terrain or an obstacle, HTAWS will verbalize "Caution! Terrain" through the Inter-Communications System (ICS) to all crew, alerting them to the presence of the obstacle. If the helicopter continues to approach the hazard, the system will then state, "Warning! Terrain!”

In nighttime, low-light flight profiles or times of low visibility, HTAWS technology can serve to greatly enhance a crew's situational awareness and potentially allows avoidance of such catastrophes as Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT), a major factor in numerous HAA crashes in recent years.

Watch KVUE TV report below when reporter Shelton Green rode along with STAR Flight for a demonstration of this new technology.

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Charles Brotherton
County Executive

Chuck Spangler
Program Director

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