2021 Pilot Town Hall
Q&A

We were so excited for the wonderful turnout and passionate response from all our amazing volunteer pilots. Below are some of the most common questions we received and what we hope to be useful responses.

Q & A

Can you share a video recording of the zoom meeting?

Zoom Recording link

 

Can you share the slides that were presented?

Link to Slides 

 

Can you share links to the videos that were shown?

PALS video

10th Anniversary video

PALS Moments video

  

How are pilot updates shared? How often are pilot emails sent out?

We send pilot specific newsletters 3 or 4 times per year. If something timely arises, we will send an email out at that time. If you are unsure if you are subscribed to pilot communications emails, feel free to call 631-694-PALS (7257) or email Brook Leighton, Director of Development and Marketing to check.

In addition, we will host semiannual town halls. You can also check out the pilot section on the website.

If you have any questions, you can always email [email protected] or call 631-694-PALS (7257).

COVID-19 Protocol Questions

The COVID-19 Flying Protocol can be found here

Can PALS require COVID-19 testing for patients?

PALS does not require passengers to be tested for COVID-19. We understand that many of our pilots are concerned about COVID-19 exposure and may feel more comfortable flying a passenger who has recently tested negative. We ask patients a full list of COVID-19 screening questions, including whether they have been tested, before every flight. We will put in the Important Considerations whether the passenger has been vaccinated.

 

Can PALS limit the number of companions allowed on a flight?

Per our Return to Flying Protocol, it is always suggested that the number of companions is limited to one, however, there are instances where multiple companions are needed to provide support. We do advise the patient that the more passengers on the flight, the harder it may be to get a pilot.

 

Are PALS pilots eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine?

Depending on your state, active pilots might be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine. If you are an active pilot, email Karen Krolikowski, Director of Operations & Outreach to request a letter documenting your status. Whether this letter will grant you access to the vaccine will vary from state to state. Contact your state department of health for more information.

Safety Questions

What should I do if a patient unexpectedly needs a seatbelt extender?

We take measures to ensure that the pilot knows in advance if a seatbelt extender would be needed. We ask patients who weigh more than 220 lbs. if they need a seatbelt extender. If so, we note it in the Important Considerations section, which is highlighted in red. Currently we list the passengers’ weight on the itinerary. We understand this is an ongoing concern and are working on a technology solution to show the height on the itinerary in addition to the weight.

In the event that a passenger needs a seatbelt extender and you do not have one, please call the office so we can advise.  Remember that the PIC is required to maintain compliance with 14 CFR Part 91.107 regarding seat belt use at all times.   

How can a pilot get assistance if AOG in the middle of a mission or needs a way home?

Please call Missions Coordination at 631-694-PALS (7257) or after hours at 516-640-1390 and we will assist you.

 

What are ways to look at long-range forecasts?

The following sites, apps, and resources were suggested by pilots:

Weatherspork
Skew-T Pro
Windy
NOAA Aviation Weather Center
ForeFlight
PivotalWeather
Weather Briefers

PALS encourages pilots to reserve flights as far out as possible, even when the long-range forecast is uncertain or unavailable.  If the weather isn’t flyable for one pilot, chances are it is not flyable for most pilots.  All passengers have a back-up plan and are aware that flights may be cancelled for weather reasons.  It is comforting for them to know as far out as possible however, that there is a pilot who can fly them if the weather is not an issue.

Connecting with Other Pilots

How to connect with other pilots or mission assistants?

Pilots can log in to the Pilot Community using their username and password, and click on “Roster” in the upper right-hand corner. From there they can view all Active Members and can filter by Pilot name, Status, Homebase, etc. Please note that this roster is for PALS use only, please do not share with anyone outside of the organization.  If you forgot your username and password, just send your request to [email protected], and we will send you a link to reset them.

 

I would like to connect with an experienced PALS pilot for advice/mentorship or to copilot.

We will create a list of mentors by state that will be available on the pilot page of the website. For privacy, the list will not have contact information. You can find the pilot’s contact information through the Pilot Community as described above or by calling our office. Stay tuned for an email announcement when the mentor list is available.

 

I would like to mentor other pilots.

You can express your interest in mentoring in the post-event survey that was sent out on Monday or email [email protected] to have your name added. If you have already filled out the survey, consider yourself on the list!

 

Can we do more events?

We want to see more of you too! We have a fly-in in Florida planned. Join us on March 6th – 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at KSEF – Sebring, FL.  Outdoor dining will be available. Stay tuned for the email invite. PALS pilots can RSVP here.

We are also looking into planning a Virtual Safety Seminar. More information and an invitation to follow.

Compassion Call Sign

Why doesn’t PALS have its own call sign?

Several years ago, the regulations around call sign use made it much more difficult to obtain and use a call sign.  Further, with the advent of ADS-B out, there arose an issue of “ADS-B Mismatch” between the tail number/call sign of the aircraft and the ADS-B code that ATC sees.   At the time, we felt that it was best to stand-down on obtaining a call sign until we got better clarity on the process, cost, and benefits of having a PALS call sign.   Given the energy around this topic from our pilots, we are reengaging on addressing a PALS call sign solution.

The ADS-B Mismatch issue results from the fact that each aircraft ADS-B broadcasts your pre-programmed registration number to ATC.  When using a PALS call sign, the pilot must go into their transponder settings to change the squawk to your unique PALS code.  Many GA Transponders are set to not allow the registration to be pilot selectable, or if you have an ADS-B solution like u-Avionix, the registration is pre-programmed and not changeable at all without changing the firmware. 

In addition, having a call sign would require us to apply to ICAO for a base three letter call sign, and then each pilot would be assigned their personal three-digit code, which would never change.  At the time, we didn’t have a good handle on the costs to the pilot for this, but the registration fee is not insignificant, so before we committed we need to understand the extent of how the ADS-B mismatch issue would limit use of the call sign, and how many pilots would be willing to apply for their call sign.

We want to be compliant to the FAA regulations concerning call signs and using a call sign like “Compassion” requires us to have specific approval from the FAA.  It also causes confusion when you make a call with “Compassion” yet your flight plan and your ADS-B are both your tail number.  Because of this, we felt it was best to file as you would customarily do, and place a notation in the remarks section that it is a Compassion flight for Patient Airlift Services.

We continue to study this issue and are eager to come up with an effective solution for our pilots to use an official PALS call sign.

We appreciate your feedback and always make decisions considering what is best for passengers and pilots

Other Questions

Flying into Logan

During the Town Hall, there was a lot of discussion surrounding flying in Logan airport. Be sure to reach out to your mentors who are comfortable with Logan to discuss further.

PALS Pilot Adam Broun shared this KBOS Guide that he wrote with the input of other PALS pilots: 

Another option is to use a simulator like a Redbird to create a scenario of flying into Logan.  Many of these simulations are extremely realistic.  If anyone is interested in videoing either a live or simulated flight to BOS, please let us know.

Does PALS carry liability insurance that will cover the pilot beyond the pilot’s own policy? Or are the releases relied upon exclusively? 

No, PALS does not carry liability insurance that covers the pilot. Whether flying rented or owned aircraft, pilots must have in force liability insurance applicable to the flight providing minimum coverage of $1,000,000 per occurrence and $100,000 per seat. PALS insurance policy only covers PALS as an entity – not the individual pilot flying the mission. If you have further concerns, please seek professional advice specific to your question.

 

Can I have a copy of the updated brochure with the new branding?

Can a pilot combine passengers from 2 different Volunteer Pilot Organizations on a flight?

At this time due to COVID, we cannot combine because of the different protocols and procedures of the different organizations. Once COVID-19 free, if this scenario arises, we would discuss with the other organization to come up with a solution that is best for the passengers.

Usually, when a patient travels outside our service geography we have coordinated with other organizations to split the trip. Currently due to the ongoing pandemic and the varying protocols, we are not able to do this either at this time.

 

Where to go for PALS refresher on procedures for waivers, etc:

If you haven’t flown a PALS flight for some time and would like a refresher or have a question about flying missions, please contact our Pilot Coordinator, Kirk Thorvaldsen at [email protected], for a quick refresher Orientation.

 

Journals:

John Rochelle discussed the tradition of having passengers write in a PALS journal.  Command pilots who have recently flown their first few PALS flights will be sent a journal in the next couple of months.  However, if you’ve been around for a while and we’ve missed you, please email Karen Krolikowski, Director of Operations & Outreach to get one.

 

What happens when a flight gets canceled due to weather, aircraft issues, etc.?

Every patient has a back-up plan should a flight cancel due to weather, mechanical, etc. If you need to cancel a mission, the more notice the better so Mission Coordination can work with the patient to implement the backup plan.

 

Discuss why fuel reimbursement is limited to those holding Second Class Medicals.

The criteria is set forth and mandated by the FAA. You can view the Exemption here

If you are interested in fuel reimbursement it is very importation that you review and understand all of the requirements and limitations on conducting flights for which fuel is reimbursed, as they affect things like rest periods, currency requirements, and operating and airport limitations.

 

Can pilots suggest changes to the itinerary?

Yes, pilots can call or email Missions to ask to split missions between pilots, suggest alternative airports, etc.

 

Please provide info on new Mission Assistant and Pilot orientation.

Contact our Pilot Coordinator, Kirk Thorvaldsen to arrange an Orientation. Kirk’s email is [email protected]

 

PALS cockpit checklist? Preparing first flights checklist? Pilot training resources?

We will post these types of tools and resources on our website.