Re: What are Lifeguard Flights

Date:         20 Mar 97 02:38:32 
From:         kls@ohare.Chicago.COM (Karl Swartz)
Organization: Chicago Software Works, Menlo Park, California
References:   1
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>I have heard the word *lifeguard* included in the call sign of aircraft
>landing at BWI  for years and I always thought it was small aircraft
>functioning as air-ambulances bringing seriously ill or injured patients
>for one of the Baltimore hospitals.  This past week I have heard two US
>Airways 737s using the call sign US AIR Lifeguard.  Can anyone tell me
>why?  Do they have seriously ill people onboard and get special

A good discussion of "Lifeguard" flights can be found on NASA's Aviation
Safety Reporting System (ASRS) web site:

The FAA Air Traffic Control handbook, Order 7110.65J, defines the term
and its usage within the ATC context.  Paragraph 2-4, Operational Priority,
says the following:

   "Provide air traffic control service to aircraft on a 'first come,
   first served' basis as circumstance permit, except the following...

   a.) Provide priority to civilian air ambulance flight (LIFEGUARD).
   When verbally requested, provide priority to military air evacuation
   flight (AIR EVAC, MED EVAC) and scheduled air carrier/air taxi flight.
   Assist the pilot of air ambulance/evacuation aircraft to avoid areas
   of significant weather and turbulence conditions.  When requested by
   a pilot, provide notifications to expedite ground handling or
   patients, vital organs, or urgently needed medical materials.

   2-4a) Note--Air carrier/taxi usage of "LIFEGUARD" call sign,
   indicates that operational priority is requested."

Note the mention of vital organs -- TWA 800, for example, was a Lifeguard
flight because it was carrying a shipment of human corneas for transplant

Karl Swartz	|Home
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