FAA Grant Installs State-of-the-Art Helipad at Altru

FAA Grant Installs State-of-the-Art Helipad at Altru

7-Jun-2010 Source: Altru Health System

Altru Health System, Grand Forks, ND  – As part of a grant awarded to UND Aerospace by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Altru Health System received a state-of-the-art helipad. This is similar to one currently used at the FAA research and technical center in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

This spring, Altru became the first test site in the United States for the new helipad. Specifically, the grant allowed Altru to paint its current helipad blue and install state-of-the-art LED lighting both in the ground and elevated around the pad. The blue paint provides the greatest contrast and visibility from the sky.

As a result of the grant and newly redesigned helipad, UND Aerospace will perform human factors testing related to the helipad to prove validity of the design. “All helicopters landing at Altru must fly under visual flight rules. This requires a forward visibility of at least three miles,” notes Tom Zeidlik, paramedic at Altru and aviation faculty member at the University of North Dakota. “The human factors testing at Altru will prove the ability to see the helipad’s LED lights from a distance of at least three miles.”  If the research study proves to be safer and beneficial from a human factors point of view, regulations could be re-written to compel all certified helipads to replicate the one recently installed at Altru.

Throughout the country, helipads use green, amber or white lights. The FAA suggests green, but there is no testing to prove the validity of green over amber or white. “This helipad is the life-size, actual test-bed proving green lights are easier for pilots to see and identify, thus providing pilots with better visual cues to land safely and with confidence,” states Tom.

“With an average of 60 helicopters landing at Altru every year, we have many patients counting on us. Installing the new helipad increases the safety of patient transports,” explains Art Culver, supervisor of Altru’s Ambulance Services. “Not only is Grand Forks working to make patients safer in Grand Forks, but this study may also prove beneficial to patients nationwide.”

Altru Health System is a community-owned, integrated system with an acute care hospital, a rehabilitation hospital, more than a dozen clinics in Grand Forks and the region, a large home care network, and a congregate living facility.  It employs nearly 200 physicians and 3,800 staff and has annual net operating revenue of $372 million.

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