EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSHELICOPTER LANDING
from Eyewitness News Online
Helicopter Received No Response When Attempting To Land
Reported by: Elizabeth Noreika
Web Producer: Heath Harrison
Reported: Mar. 13, 2013 8:14 PM EDT
Updated: Mar. 13, 2013 11:39 PM EDT
Charleston , Kanawha County , West Virginia
The HealthNet helicopter is often used to transport patients in dire straits, but earlier this year, when the crew couldn't make contact with the airport, it made landing a little harder.
The helicopter is often forced to land on football fields, the middle of the interstate, places you wouldn't imagine a helicopter landing.
That's not a huge deal for the crews, but in January, when air traffic control wasn't responding, it threw them for a little bit of a loop.
“We had a HealthNet aircraft that was inbound to Charleston with a patient on board," said Clinton Burley, president of HealthNet.
In an audio recording from January 2013, "HealthNet 6" can be heard attempting to reach "Charleston tower" at Yeager Airport multiple times.
After twenty minutes of trying to contact the tower, there was still no response.
“It was an unusual situation, so we weren't concerned for our safety, Chief Flight Nurse Cliff Fordyce. “We were more concerned for the safety that was going on in the tower."
With a patient on board headed to Charleston General, the HealthNet pilot was forced to use Plan B, overriding air traffic control and communicating directly with other aircrafts.
After sidestepping air traffic control, the helicopter landed safely at the hospital.
Despite the anxious situation, Burley still has faith in the safety of the crews.
"We have every confidence in the FAA and the controllers that we with work safely every day." Burley said.
Eyewitness News contacted Yeager Airport about what exactly happened in the traffic control tower. Director Rick Atkinson referred us to the Federal Aviation Administration, but no one was able to comment. As of right now, we are told that air traffic controller is still working.
Clinton Burley, the CEO of HealthNet, said one of the company’s helicopters with a patient on board tried to land at a Charleston area hospital in January. When they attempted to contact air traffic control at Yeager Airport for permission to land, they got no response.
The pilot can be heard in audio recording trying to contact the tower for almost twenty minutes with no response.
It's an unusual situation but HealthNet fortunately has a back-up plan and on board equipment for emergencies like the January incident.
"It was an unusual situation so we weren't concerned for our safety,” said chief flight nurse Cliff Fordyce. “We were more concerned for the safety that was going on in the tower."
Eyewitness News contacted Yeager Airport about what exactly happened in the traffic control tower that evening.
Director Rick Atkinson referred us to the Federal Aviation Administration, but no one was able to comment. As of right now we are told that air traffic controller is still working.
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