Operations control centers.
(a) Operations control center. After April 22, 2016, certificate holders authorized to conduct helicopter air ambulance operations, with 10 or more helicopter air ambulances assigned to the certificate holder's operations specifications, must have an operations control center. The operations control center must be staffed by operations control specialists who, at a minimum—
(1) Provide two-way communications with pilots;
(2) Provide pilots with weather briefings, to include current and forecasted weather along the planned route of flight;
(3) Monitor the progress of the flight; and
(4) Participate in the preflight risk analysis required under § 135.617 to include the following:
(i) Ensure the pilot has completed all required items on the preflight risk analysis worksheet;
(ii) Confirm and verify all entries on the preflight risk analysis worksheet;
(iii) Assist the pilot in mitigating any identified risk prior to takeoff; and
(iv) Acknowledge in writing, specifying the date and time, that the preflight risk analysis worksheet has been accurately completed and that, according to their professional judgment, the flight can be conducted safely.
(b) Operations control center staffing. Each certificate holder conducting helicopter air ambulance operations must provide enough operations control specialists at each operations control center to ensure the certificate holder maintains operational control of each flight.
(c) Documentation of duties and responsibilities. Each certificate holder must describe in its operations manual the duties and responsibilities of operations control specialists, including preflight risk mitigation strategies and control measures, shift change checklist, and training and testing procedures to hold the position, including procedures for retesting.
(d) Training requirements. No certificate holder may use, nor may any person perform the duties of, an operations control specialist unless the operations control specialist has satisfactorily completed the training requirements of this paragraph.
(1) Initial training. Before performing the duties of an operations control specialist, each person must satisfactorily complete the certificate holder's FAA-approved operations control specialist initial training program and pass an FAA-approved knowledge and practical test given by the certificate holder. Initial training must include a minimum of 80 hours of training on the topics listed in paragraph (f) of this section. A certificate holder may reduce the number of hours of initial training to a minimum of 40 hours for persons who have obtained, at the time of beginning initial training, a total of at least 2 years of experience during the last 5 years in any one or in any combination of the following areas—
(i) In military aircraft operations as a pilot, flight navigator, or meteorologist;
(ii) In air carrier operations as a pilot, flight engineer, certified aircraft dispatcher, or meteorologist; or
(iii) In aircraft operations as an air traffic controller or a flight service specialist.
(2) Recurrent training. Every 12 months after satisfactory completion of the initial training, each operations control specialist must complete a minimum of 40 hours of recurrent training on the topics listed in paragraph (f) of this section and pass an FAA-approved knowledge and practical test given by the certificate holder on those topics.
(e) Training records. The certificate holder must maintain a training record for each operations control specialist employed by the certificate holder for the duration of that individual's employment and for 90 days thereafter. The training record must include a chronological log for each training course, including the number of training hours and the examination dates and results.
(f) Training topics. Each certificate holder must have an FAA-approved operations control specialist training program that covers at least the following topics—
(1) Aviation weather, including:
(i) General meteorology;
(ii) Prevailing weather;
(iii) Adverse and deteriorating weather;
(v) Icing conditions;
(vi) Use of aviation weather products;
(vii) Available sources of information; and
(viii) Weather minimums;
(2) Navigation, including:
(i) Navigation aids;
(ii) Instrument approach procedures;
(iii) Navigational publications; and
(iv) Navigation techniques;
(3) Flight monitoring, including:
(i) Available flight-monitoring procedures; and
(ii) Alternate flight-monitoring procedures;
(4) Air traffic control, including:
(ii) Air traffic control procedures;
(iii) Aeronautical charts; and
(iv) Aeronautical data sources;
(5) Aviation communication, including:
(i) Available aircraft communications systems;
(ii) Normal communication procedures;
(iii) Abnormal communication procedures; and
(iv) Emergency communication procedures;
(6) Aircraft systems, including:
(i) Communications systems;
(ii) Navigation systems;
(iii) Surveillance systems;
(iv) Fueling systems;
(v) Specialized systems;
(vi) General maintenance requirements; and
(vii) Minimum equipment lists;
(7) Aircraft limitations and performance, including:
(i) Aircraft operational limitations;
(ii) Aircraft performance;
(iii) Weight and balance procedures and limitations; and
(iv) Landing zone and landing facility requirements;
(8) Aviation policy and regulations, including:
(i) 14 CFR Parts 1, 27, 29, 61, 71, 91, and 135;
(ii) 49 CFR Part 830;
(iii) Company operations specifications;
(iv) Company general operations policies;
(v) Enhanced operational control policies;
(vi) Aeronautical decision making and risk management;
(vii) Lost aircraft procedures; and
(viii) Emergency and search and rescue procedures, including plotting coordinates in degrees, minutes, seconds format, and degrees, decimal minutes format;
(9) Crew resource management, including:
(i) Concepts and practical application;
(ii) Risk management and risk mitigation; and
(iii) Pre-flight risk analysis procedures required under § 135.617;
(10) Local flying area orientation, including:
(i) Terrain features;
(iii) Weather phenomena for local area;
(iv) Airspace and air traffic control facilities;
(v) Heliports, airports, landing zones, and fuel facilities;
(vi) Instrument approaches;
(vii) Predominant air traffic flow;
(viii) Landmarks and cultural features, including areas prone to flat-light, whiteout, and brownout conditions; and
(ix) Local aviation and safety resources and contact information; and
(11) Any other requirements as determined by the Administrator to ensure safe operations.
(g) Operations control specialist duty time limitations.
(1) Each certificate holder must establish the daily duty period for an operations control specialist so that it begins at a time that allows that person to become thoroughly familiar with operational considerations, including existing and anticipated weather conditions in the area of operations, helicopter operations in progress, and helicopter maintenance status, before performing duties associated with any helicopter air ambulance operation. The operations control specialist must remain on duty until relieved by another qualified operations control specialist or until each helicopter air ambulance monitored by that person has completed its flight or gone beyond that person's jurisdiction.
(2) Except in cases where circumstances or emergency conditions beyond the control of the certificate holder require otherwise—
(i) No certificate holder may schedule an operations control specialist for more than 10 consecutive hours of duty;
(ii) If an operations control specialist is scheduled for more than 10 hours of duty in 24 consecutive hours, the certificate holder must provide that person a rest period of at least 8 hours at or before the end of 10 hours of duty;
(iii) If an operations control specialist is on duty for more than 10 consecutive hours, the certificate holder must provide that person a rest period of at least 8 hours before that person's next duty period;
(iv) Each operations control specialist must be relieved of all duty with the certificate holder for at least 24 consecutive hours during any 7 consecutive days.
(h) Drug and alcohol testing. Operations control specialists must be tested for drugs and alcohol according to the certificate holder's Drug and Alcohol Testing Program administered under part 120 of this chapter.