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Only two of nearly 40 heliports in hospitals have permission to operate

The National Civil Aviation Authority has alerted hospital management boards to the lack of authorisation for the use of those infrastructures

Only the heliports of the Beatriz Ângelo (Loures) and Garcia de Orta (Almada) hospitals, of the almost 40 existing in the country, are authorised to operate, the president of the National Civil Aviation Authority (ANAC) revealed this Wednesday.

Tânia Cardoso Simões was heard at the Health Commission of the Portuguese Parliament in Lisbon, after a request from the PSD parliamentary group about the heliport at Lamego Hospital, and the PCP deputy João Dias questioned her about the national panorama of hospital heliports.

The president of ANAC began by explaining that, according to a 2010 law, heliports used for emergency medical operations, firefighting or other civil protection purposes require authorisation from the regulator.

In this regard, he added, ANAC issued a circular letter alerting hospital management boards to the lack of authorisation for the use of such facilities.

Lusa news agency counted 41 heliports: three certified to serve the National Institute of Medical Emergency (INEM) and the National Authority for Emergency and Civil Protection (ANEPC) and 37 are exclusively hospital-based, of which two have authorisation. There is also a third authorised, at the Pombal Municipal Aerodrome, in Casalinho, used not only for hospital purposes.

Of the remaining 35, eight already had authorisation and expired, 18 never had authorisation but are published in the VFR manual for aviation commanders, four are new and have processes underway and five are in no condition to operate.

Of these five, three were closed by ANAC and the remaining two never applied for authorisation.

Regarding the three heliports that are not located in hospitals but are used by the INEM, and therefore need "certification", they are located in Macedo de Cavaleiros (Bragança district), Baltar, municipality of Paredes (Porto district) and in Loulé (Faro district).

Tânia Cardoso Simões says she "understands" that the hospital administrations have "other priorities" besides the heliports and therefore "ANAC itself is contacting the hospitals in order to alert them" to these situations. "Last year, for the first time, before the start of the season, all the bases for the firefighting device were certified, in a joint effort with the National Emergency and Civil Protection Authority," he assumed.

Meanwhile, the ANAC met with the president of the INEM to "be signaled the [heliports] that are priorities". Despite recognising that they are all priorities, she said it is not possible to develop all of them at the same time, "due to human resources".

In this sense, the president of ANAC said that "Beatriz Ângelo, in Loures, Garcia da Orta, in Almada, and Casalinho, in Pombal (Leiria) are all authorised". The latter is not exclusively for medical operations and is located in a municipal aerodrome.


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