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AirLink Critical Care Transport - Non-injury incident

Date: 01/16/2010 1210 PST

Program: AirLink Critical Care Transport
	2500 NE Neff Road
	Bend, OR 97701

Type: EC-145
Tail #: N885AL
Operator/Vendor: Metro Aviation

Weather: High scattered to broken; visibility unlimited

Team: Pilot, Flight Nurse and Flight Respiratory Therapist, Flight Perinatal Nurse. No injuries reported. No patient. 

	Climbing out of the valley eastbound, at approximately 6500 feet MSL,
	a small, fast-moving fixed wing aircraft passed by from the right
	front to left rear uncomfortably close. The aircraft was not spotted
	until it was abeam the helicopter. Desert terrain features contributed
	to make this pink-colored airplane difficult to see. This area of the
	valley is normally just outside of the self-announce zone of several
	uncontrolled airports.
	Close encounters with other aircraft is on the rise in the Central
	Oregon area. Increased training activity, predominately fair weather
	conditions, and accessibility to multiple public airports make our
	area popular to aviators. Masking terrain precludes en route ATC
	monitoring of low level flyers, and the primary towered airport in the
	area does not have access to approach radar. See and avoid rules and
	self-announce disciplines are the only tools currently available to
	AirLink CCT is trying to mitigate airborne conflicts with a
	multi-facetted approach. We have extended our "sterile cockpit" en
	route to the valley perimeter, focusing on all-hands alertness and
	radio position call-outs on local Common Traffic Advisory Frequencies
	(CTAF). Generally, we try to fly well above airport traffic patterns
	and avoid Instrument Approach Plate (IAP) pathways. Having more
	experienced team members up front with the pilot is encouraged, and we
	ask the pilot to announce when he is going "eyes-in" to change radio
	frequencies; this practice helps to keep the team members engaged in
	looking outside the aircraft when they are not preoccupied with a
	patient. AirLink CCT looks for opportunities to address local flying
	businesses and clubs to brief them on the nature of our Lifeguard
	responses, and to discuss our history of particularly troublesome
	areas of conflict. 

Source: Bill Conklin, Lead Rotor Pilot

The CONCERN network shares verified information to alert medical transport
programs when an accident / incident has occurred. Please share the above
information with your program staff. If you have further questions, please
contact the CONCERN Coordinator, David Kearns at 800 525 3712 or email:

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