January 18, 2019

Congressman Joe Neguse (CO-02) Introduces Legislation to Promote Safer Fuel Systems in Emergency Helicopters

Washington D.C.— This week, Congressman Joe Neguse (CO-02), alongside Rep. Ed Perlmutter (CO-07) introduced the Safe Helicopters Now Act, legislation to provide helicopter manufacturers with a tax credit for retrofitting existing emergency helicopters with safer fuel systems.

“Emergency helicopters and the people who pilot them are on the front lines of some of the toughest times for Americans,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “I introduced this bill to ensure that emergency workers in Colorado and across the country can safely accomplish the tremendous tasks set before them and feel secure while keeping the rest of us safe.”

The bill was written with help from Karen Mahany, widow of Patrick Mahany, a Flight for Life pilot who was killed in a helicopter crash while serving the community of Frisco in 2015. The crash resulted in a fire that claimed Mahany's life and severely injured the two flight nurses on board, Dave Repsher and Matt Bowe. 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.

“After the July 3, 2015 crash of the Flight For Life Frisco, Colorado 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, ” said Karen Mahany. “I am so appreciative of Rep. Neguse and Rep. 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,”

“I’m grateful for the bravery and service of Karen Mahany for continuing to fight on this issue to protect the lives of air medical crews across the country,” continued Congressman Neguse. “She has shown tremendous bravery in speaking out and ensuring that something be done about the conditions that claimed the life of her husband.”

“This legislation is so critical. It is something the industry needs and wants,” said Dave Respher, the flight nurse who suffered burns from the July 2015 helicopter crash. “What is out there right now in helicopters is ancient in safety and technology. There haven’t been any significant safety improvements since the 1960’s.”

The Safe Helicopters Now Act is the 5th piece of legislation Rep. Neguse has introduced since being sworn in on January 3rd. Other legislation he has introduced include the Solar EDGE Act, the Arapaho National Forest Boundary Adjustment (WEDGE) Act, the Bolts Ditch Access and Use Act and H.R. 473, a bill to authorize the “Every Word We Utter” Monument.