The UK’s East Anglian Air Ambulance charity organization and its helicopter operator, Bond Air Services, have been allowed to fly emergency medical service missions at night, using night-vision goggles. The charity believes that it will be able to conduct approximately 30 percent more missions, helping an estimated 300 more patients a year. Special equipment also includes a powerline detection system.
A helicopter air ambulance belonging to Ontario’s provincially funded service, Ornge, crashed shortly after takeoff May 31, killing its four-man crew of two pilots and two flight paramedics. The 1980 Sikorsky S-76A took off from rural Moosonee along St. James Bay at 12:10 a.m. en route to the remote First Nation village of Attawapiskat for a patient pick-up. It crashed almost immediately after takeoff into a densely wooded area less than 3,000 feet off the airport and burned.
German air ambulance specialist Flight Ambulance International (Booth 1047) has named Abu Dhabi Airports Company’s Al Bateen Executive Airport as its preferred stopover airport in the Middle East region. Under the agreement, Al Bateen will host two Learjet 60s dedicated to air ambulance service and served by German Medical Teams. A Learjet 60 air ambulance can accommodate a medical team, one patient and two patient escorts and can carry critically ill patients between Abu Dhabi and anywhere in the world.
The Pilatus PC-12 turboprop single is gaining ground as a cost-effective alternative to helicopter air ambulances.
Nextant Aerospace announced its first special-mission configuration for its 400XT–an air ambulance interior conversion from Spectrum Aeromed–yesterday at ABACE. The $100,000 self-contained equipment package will enable operators to convert the jet’s interior from a VIP configuration to a critical-care environment, including advanced cardiac life support, in less than 30 minutes. Nextant also plans to develop more special-mission applications for the 400XT.
India’s yet-to-take off helicopter emergency medical services program (HEMS) received a boost earlier this year with a firm contract for seven Eurocopter EC135s by Bangalore-based Aviators Ltd. signed in the presence of visiting French president François Hollande.
Canadian air ambulance operator Ornge, a not-for-profit organization, has introduced a new interior for its AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters that allows paramedics to perform CPR “at any time during flight, reduces the risk of tubes snagging on equipment and gives better access to the patient and medical bags and supplies.”
A Europe-wide proposed regulation, combined with a lack of response from national authorities, will have a serious impact on the financial viability of helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) in France, according to Union Française de l’Hélicoptère (UFH). The lobbying association warns that the likely requirement for a second flight crewmember would create a costly burden and do nothing to benefit the missions French HEMS operators are allowed to perform.
At the request of Congress, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s inspector general’s (IG) office has launched an audit into FAA efforts to improve the safety of helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) operations. The FAA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking in 2009–but never a final rule–to address HEMS safety concerns and the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 requires that the FAA take specific actions to improve HEMS safety, including promotion of the use of night-vision goggles.
Air Methods, the nation’s largest air ambulance provider, ended last year by placing orders for 42 new helicopters, including 20 Bell 407GX singles and 22 Eurocopters (10 EC130T2 and six AS350B3e light singles, and six EC135P2e light twins). All of the helicopters ordered are recently upgraded and improved editions of legacy models and feature new avionics and/or enhanced performance. The Eurocopter order is valued at more than $80 million. Deliveries are scheduled for 2014 and 2015.