It is now easier to identify angels in the air, thanks
to the FAA. The agency has assigned a three-letter identifier code that can be used by
pilots across the country flying as part of the Air Care Alliance, a group of non-profit
charitable organizations that provide medical transport for patients.
The organizations 4,000 members including many FAA employees also
provide transport for tissue/organ transplants and emergency/disaster relief efforts.
The new three letter identifier CMF and its radiotelephony call sign,
"COMPASSION," make it easier for pilots to file flight plans with the FAA,
reduce potential confusion about their mission, and provide a heads-up to air traffic
controllers about the type of flight they will be handling.
Rol Murrow, former chairman of Air Care Alliance, explained that some Air Care Alliance
flights in the past have been mistakenly identified as "Lifeguard" flights,
which receive priority handling by air traffic controllers because they involve
life-and-death situations. Although some Alliance flights are flown under the
"Lifeguard" identification, it is usually not necessary.
Using the CMF identifier, however, does allow Air Care Alliance pilots to request
|special handling to keep patients comfortable, such as flying at
lower altitudes or on routes that avoid potential turbulence.
Angel Cases, an airspace
and procedures specialist in the New England Regions Air Traffic Division, was one
of the FAA leads in designating the new identifier code. Because of their mission to
communities throughout the U.S., Cases expedited Air Care Alliances request for an
identifier code. "I needed to make sure they met the requirements, and if they
werent able to, I wanted to assist them in documenting a case for a waiver to the
requirements. That way they would be able to perform their mission," Cases said.
Because of the FAAs work on this issue, volunteer pilot organizations like Angel
Flight Northeast in Andover, Mass., Wings of Mercy in Muskegan, Mich., and Angel Flight
West out of Santa Monica, Calif., can now provide their missions of mercy in a clearer,
In addition to Cases, Murrow wanted to especially thank John Elliott in the Air Traffic
Operations Program and all the other FAA offices that helped with this effort. "Air
Care Alliances mission has been supported steadfastly by officials and the rank and file of the
FAA," Murrow said.