U.S. Representative Jared Polis

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Polis and other Colorado members commemorate Flight for Life pilot; Polis and Perlmutter introduce new bill to enhance safety on existing helicopters

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Washington, September 18, 2018 | comments

Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., together with every Colorado member of the House of Representatives, introduced a resolution to commemorate Patrick Mahany, by renaming the Frisco post office the Patrick E. Mahany Jr. Post Office. Mahany was a Flight for Life pilot who perished in a crash in Frisco, Colo. in 2015. He is survived by wife Karen and three children, Kathleen Celeste, Shawna Suzanne, and son Ryan Patrick.

“I am honored that Rep. Polis has filed the bill to have the Frisco Post Office named after my husband, Patrick E. Mahany Jr. It is honor that Patrick would have been so humbled by, and it is such a fitting tribute to someone who loved the community with all his heart,” said Karen Mahany.

Mahany, a veteran, enlisted in the Army in 1969, graduating from flight school in 1970. He completed a tour in Vietnam from April 1970 to April 1971 where he flew 1,200 combat hours, earning a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. Mahany joined Flight for Life in June 1987. 

“Patrick was a gifted pilot, and a lively and unforgettable presence within Flight For Life Colorado for more than three decades.  Although ‘snow’ and ‘rain’ sometimes kept him from flying, for thousands of our patients and their families, just like the USPS, Patrick ‘delivered.’  As a result, people are alive because of what he and his medical crew did,” said Kathleen Mayer, MS RN, Program Director, Flight For Life Colorado.

In addition to the legislation to rename the Frisco post office, Polis, alongside Rep. Perlmutter, D-Colo., 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.

“It’s past time that every emergency helicopter is equipped with the safest possible fuel systems. Further delays could jeopardize the wellbeing and lives of patients and the first responders who rescue them,” said Polis. “I am so pleased that all the House members from Colorado were able to come together to publicly commemorate the service of Patrick Mahany, and I hope we are able to do even more to commemorate him in the immediate future. The House has already passed an amendment to require new helicopters to be equipped with safer fuel systems – which is on its way to becoming law, pending approval in the Senate. The new bill would help manufacturers enhance safety on existing helicopters, by providing a tax credit for the retrofitting of active emergency helicopters.”

"Summit County is honored to have legislation introduced to highlight Patrick Mahany's legacy and contributions to Summit County with the naming of the Frisco post office in his memory. He played a key role in keeping our community members and visitors safe through his work for Flight For Life and the contributions he made to Search and Rescue. I'm so glad every member of the Colorado Congressional delegation was able to come together on this, and I want to especially thank Rep. Jared Polis and Rep. Ed Perlmutter for their continued leadership on helicopter fuel safety. In Summit County, helicopter emergency rescues are a critical part of our emergency response system,” said Dan Gibbs, Summit County Commissioner.

“After the July 3, 2015 crash of the Flight For Life Frisco, Colo. helicopter that took the life of my husband, Patrick Mahany Jr., it was uncovered that 85 percent of all helicopters flying in the U.S. today are part of a FAA allowed loophole that allows unsafe fuel tanks to continue to be placed onto newly manufactured helicopters. I am so appreciative of Rep. Polis and Perlmutter who are championing this tax credit incentivizing legislation. Once this legislation is passed, it will mean that EMS helicopter flight crews will to be protected from post-crash fires and be able to continue to do the work that they love,” said Karen Mahany.

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.

Perlmutter and Polis introduced the Helicopter Fuel System Safety Act in 2016 and reintroduced the bill this Congress on June 29, 2017. The bill would require that all newly manufactured helicopters be built with crash-resistant fuel systems, closing the loophole exempting certain helicopters. This year, Perlmutter and Polis offered the Helicopter Fuel System Safety Act as an amendment to FAA reauthorization. Polis also offered an additional amendment to provide a tax incentive to EMS companies that retrofit existing helicopters with safer fuel systems, which was spurred by a conversation with Mahany’s widow at a constituent town hall. This amendment was the basis for the Safe Helicopters Now Act.

The House adopted the Helicopter Fuel System Safety Act amendment, passing its version of FAA reauthorization H.R.4 on April 27, 2018 by a vote of 393 to 13. For the past five months the Senate has been negotiating its reauthorization bill but has yet to take a full vote. Funding for FAA runs out on September 30th unless the House and Senate can pass a compromise bill before then.

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