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FAA confirms date for air ambulance rule


Washington – A final rule regarding safety regulations for helicopter air ambulances will go into effect April 22, 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration has announced.

As part of the rule, pilots will be allowed to determine whether to take off from sites where weather reports are unavailable. If a pilot determines that the observed ceiling and visibility is greater than specified minimums, he or she will be allowed to fly.

According to a fact sheet from FAA, 75 air ambulance companies operate about 1,515 helicopters in the United States. The task can be especially dangerous because the helicopters often fly at low altitude and in adverse weather conditions.

The announcement, which was published in the Nov. 3 Federal Register, marks the latest step in a rulemaking process that has lasted for nearly a year. FAA initially said its final rule for enhanced operating procedures and altitude requirements would go into effect in April 2014, but the deadline was pushed back after it was determined that affected parties would need extra time to prepare.