U.S. Representative Jared Polis

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Helicopter fuel safety provision moves closer to becoming law

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Washington, September 27, 2018 | comments

The House of Representatives again passed key helicopter safety provisions authored by Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., and Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colo., in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill late yesterday. The Senate is expected to adopt the reauthorization language before funding for the FAA expires. The bill was presented as a compromise between the House and the Senate, after the Senate refused to consider the version of the reauthorization that the House passed in April. 

The helicopter safety provisions are modeled after the Helicopter Fuel System Safety Act, a bill that Polis co-led with Perlmutter. The bill would require that all newly manufactured helicopters be built with crash-resistant fuel systems.

The pair have been advocating the safety provisions since the July 2015, Flight for Life crash in Frisco in which the pilot, Patrick Mahany, lost his life. 

“The House of Representatives has chosen to once again come together and help prevent future helicopter tragedies. I am optimistic that the Senate will finally act in requiring all helicopters to be equipped with the safest possible fuel system, as well,” said Polis. “Further delays could jeopardize the wellbeing and lives of patients and the first responders who rescue them.”

After the 2015 Flight for Life crash in Frisco, the National Transportation Security Board (NTSB) recommended to the FAA that crash-resistant fuel systems be a requirement for all civil rotorcrafts. Currently, a loophole exists that exempts newly-manufactured helicopters from having crash-resistant fuel systems, if their model was created before 1994.

Earlier this month, Polis, alongside Perlmutter, introduced the Safe Helicopters Now Act. The bill provides helicopter manufactures with a tax credit for retrofitting existing emergency helicopters with safer fuel systems. The bill would be effective as soon as Dec. 2018.

Polis also introduced a resolution to commemorate Patrick Mahany, by renaming the Frisco post office the Patrick E. Mahany Jr. Post Office, with every member of the Colorado delegation as co-sponsors.

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