FAA makes progress on risky for-hire ops

The FAA has worked hard to improve its safety oversight of for-hire aircraft companies but needs to do more in the area of air tours and illegal operators, says a government watchdog.
The FAA is doing a better job of targeting inspections on the more risky for-hire operations, Transportation Department Inspector General Calvin Scovel said in a recent progress report. The agency has also given inspectors better procedures for evaluating safety concerns.
For-hire companies include a wide variety of aircraft and operations, including emergency medical helicopters, aerial sightseeing tours and air taxis. They often fly in more risky circumstances than scheduled airlines, but operate under less stringent safety regulations and without the guidance of air traffic controllers.
Scovel noted the FAA proposed new safety rules in October for medical helicopter operations which would require operators to evaluate the risk of a flight before dispatching a helicopter. Operators with 10 or more helicopters would have to establish a control centre to communicate with pilots, advise them on weather conditions and monitor the progress of each flight. Operators would also have to equip their fleets with cockpit warning systems that alert pilots flying at night or in poor weather.
Read the report at http://www.oig.dot.gov/library-item/5527