Emergency Procedures resources

Emergency Procedures

Mercy flights

Mercy flights

Mercy flight declaration AIP ENR 1.1

When an urgent medical, flood or fire relief or evacuation flight is proposed in order to retrieve a person from grave and imminent danger and failure to do so is likely to result in loss of life or serious or permanent disability and the flight will involve irregular operations, a mercy flight must be declared.

A mercy flight must only be declared by the pilot in command and the factors/risks that the pilot in command must consider in the declaration, commencement and continuation of the flight are detailed in AIP ENR 1.1.

A flight must not be declared a mercy flight when:

  • it can comply with the applicable regulations and orders, or
  • operational concessions to permit the anticipated irregular operations can be obtained.

In these cases, the flight should be notified as SAR, MED, HOSP or FFR. Special consideration or priority will be granted by ATC if necessary.

A mercy flight must not be undertaken when:

  • alternative means of achieving the same relief are available
  • the crew and other occupants of the aircraft involved will be exposed to undue hazards, or
  • relief or rescue can be delayed until a more suitable aircraft or more favourable operating conditions are available.

In assessing the justification of risks involved in a mercy flight, the pilot must consider the following:

  • the availability of alternative transport or alternative medical aid
  • the weather conditions en route and at the landing place/s
  • the distance from which it should be possible to see the landing place/s
  • the air distance and the type of terrain involved
  • the navigation facilities available and the reliability of those facilities (such facilities may include landmarks)
  • the availability of suitable alternate aerodromes
  • the availability and reliability of communications facilities
  • the asymmetric performance of the aircraft
  • whether the pilot’s experience reasonably meets the requirements of the mercy flight
  • the effect on the person requiring assistance if the flight is delayed until improved operating conditions exist
  • whether the flight is to be made to the nearest or most suitable hospital
  • the competence of the authority requesting the mercy flight.

The pilot in command of a mercy flight must:

  • give flight notification as required for a charter flight and identify the flight by the term ‘Mercy flight’. This notification must include the reason for the mercy flight and reference any rule or regulation which will not be complied with
  • specify reporting points or times when contact will be made
  • specify the special procedures intended or special assistance required of the ground organisation
  • limit the operating crew and the persons carried in the aircraft to the minimum number required to conduct the flight.

If the mercy flight applies only to a portion of the flight this must be stated in the flight notification. If a normal flight develops into a mercy flight, the pilot in command must take appropriate action.

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