DENVER, May 20, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Air Methods Corporation (Nasdaq:AIRM), the global leader in air medical transportation, recently was informed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that it successfully reached the highest level (Level 4) of the FAA's voluntary Safety Management System (SMS) program. The SMS program is an organizational framework created and implemented by the FAA to systematically guide, track, and provide recognition for safety efforts by commercial air operators. Level 4, the continuous improvement stage, is the final phase of implementation. With this milestone, Air Methods joins the elite company of only seven other commercial air operators (including major U.S. airlines) in the nation to reach this final level, and currently is the only helicopter company and air medical provider to hold this distinction.
"Since Air Methods entered the FAA's voluntary SMS program in 2009, we set lofty goals to mature our SMS and reach this highest level," said Aaron Todd, chief executive officer, Air Methods. "This accomplishment demonstrates clarity and confidence that we have the tools in place to mitigate risk across all facets of the organization. Our core SMS working group was instrumental in keeping this effort on track, and our employees deserve credit for being front -line risk managers everyday."
To accomplish this milestone, Air Methods implemented a variety of voluntary safety programs more commonly used by major passenger commercial airlines and cargo operations. Examples include an Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP), Maintenance Safety Action Program (MSAP), Line Operations Safety Audit (LOSA) Program, Flight Data Monitoring, Flight Operational Quality Assurance (FOQA), and an Internal Evaluation Program (IEP). In addition, Air Methods has embraced the 2009 National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommendations to public Helicopter Emergency Medical Services operators, and in the last four years has invested millions in the technology required to follow through on these recommendations. The NTSB's recommendations included conducting scenario-based training and the use of simulators and flight training devices; implementing a safety management system program; installing flight data recording devices and establishing a structured flight data monitoring program; installing and requiring that pilots use night vision imaging systems for visual flight rules operations at night; and equipping helicopters with autopilots.