Multi-pilot capability – Why do we fly with two pilots?

Our H145 helicopters (supplied by Babcock Mission Critical Services) facilitate a multi-pilot flight operation whilst maintaining the capacity to carry three clinicians. Introducing multi-pilot flight operations several years ago has improved safety, efficiency, service delivery and of course patient outcomes. Apart from improvements in response times, we now benefit from enhanced flight safety and efficiency by allowing our two skillsets (aviation/clinical) to focus on their respective specialties.

Previously the critical care paramedic (CCP) was required to provide support to the pilot for helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) flight operations. They sat in the front of the helicopter en-route providing pilot assistance for enhanced safety (it is a regulatory requirement that the ‘other’ front seat is occupied by a suitably qualified crew member when landing at ad-hoc HEMS sites). The CCP would help with navigation, check lists, landing site assessment and safety. Consequently, they were not able to fully focus on the clinical aspects of the mission. This ‘front seat’ obligation required training, maintenance of currency and annual assessments. With the introduction of multi-pilot operations, the CCP is now free to fully focus on the clinical aspects of the operation and HEMS missions.

The pilots also do more than just fly; they assist the clinicians in every way possible, they know the medical kit and provide extra manpower, communication, security and next event planning at scene. Multi-pilot operations have widened and vastly improved the ‘at scene’ support and management. With plans now in the pipeline for the future provision of a 24-hour HEMS operation, the helicopter and current crew constitution is all part of this vision.