The PennSTAR Flight Team's commitment to safety is unparalled in the industry. From the inception of the program and continuing today, PennSTAR is a pre-eminent industry leader in flight safety. By embracing proven safety technologies and concepts, and integrating them into practice, it is proof that our perfect safety record for the past 25 years is, indeed, no accident.
PennSTAR was the first Air Medical Program in Eastern Pennsylvania to require helmets, nomex suits and avionics/radio management by medical crews in 1986. In 1999, the program implemented real-time satellite tracking of aircrafts and in 2000 started using real-time weather radar and weather data at each base and introduced PennCOMM Instrument Flight operations. In 2006, night vision goggles were required in all aircrafts, and in 2013 the program put into practice, the use of real-time weather radar with aircraft transmitted GPS overlays continuously monitored in our communications center. PennSTAR's commitment to the safety of our patients and clinicians is steadfast.
Night Vision Goggles (NVGs)
Night Vision Goggles amplify natural and manmade ambient lighting to turn night into day. The ability to clearly see hazards and terrain features on dark, moonless nights is a tremendous safety advantage and increases crew comfort and reduces stress of night flying. All PennSTAR crews and aircraft operate with NVGs during low-light conditions.
In Cockpit Color Weather Radar and Satellite Feeds
All PennSTAR aircrafts are equipped with the ability to receive XM satellite radio weather radar and data feeds in-flight. In addition, most aircraft are equipped with sophisticated weather radar to display potential weather hazards in the flight path miles ahead, enabling our experienced pilots to make heading deviations to avoid adverse weather and ensure a safe flight.
Inflight Aircraft Satellite GPS Tracking with Weather Overlays
All PennSTAR aircraft are equipped with GPS transmitters which transmit exact aircraft position, compass heading, altitude, and speed to geostationary satellites. These GPS signals can then be overlaid onto a map to show the location of the aircraft, and a "bread crumb" trail of historical aircraft positions. While this is a great safety feature by itself, PennSTAR has invested in a newly available option which, in addition to displaying aircraft location, also displays real-time weather radar information in relation to the tracked aircraft. This visual depiction of the moving aircraft's location and flight path with updating weather data is constantly displayed on a 65 inch high definition monitor, under the watchful eyes of our communication technicians. This enables the aircraft and communication center to share and assist in weather-related communications.
Crew Resource Management
Our flight teams are our greatest safety assets. While technology has certainly made flight operations safer, they do not replace the experience and judgment of our seasoned staff. PennSTAR has always embraced the philosophy of crew resource management. This concept includes the distribution of aviation related duties, such as navigation and radio communications, to our clinicians when a patient is not on-board. This enables the pilot to focus attention solely on insuring the task of flying the aircraft. Furthermore, should any crew member have a concern over the safety of a patient flight, any one crew member (pilot, nurse, or paramedic) can delay or cancel the flight without concern of repercussion.