Air Methods is continuing to expand through aggressive acquisitions. Last month the largest helicopter EMS company in the U.S. announced it is acquiring the parent of competitor Omniflight for $200 million. Omniflight operates 100 aircraft from 75 bases in 18 states and is headquartered in Addison, Texas. Last year it posted revenues of $172 million. Air Methods operates a fleet of 300 aircraft nationwide.
Denver-based Air Methods Corp. (Booth No. 856), which claims the title of “largest air medical transportation company in the world,” announced yesterday the acquisition by its Products Division of United Rotorcraft Solutions.
Helicopter EMS operators and OEMs announced several large orders for new aircraft at the opening of the Air Medical Transport Conference in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., yesterday. Air Methods, the largest U.S. helicopter EMS company with a fleet of 320 rotorcraft, announced it is buying 15 new Bell 407 singles for delivery next year.
Cobham’s digital audio control system (DACS) has been installed in and FAA approved on the first commercial delivery of an air medical Bell 429.
Air Methods installed the system at its Colorado headquarters. The light twin helicopter was scheduled for delivery last month and will operate from the company’s Mercy One hospital-based program in Des Moines.
EMS provider Air Methods (Booth No. 1929) will not be taking deliveries of any more new Bell 429s beyond the single unit it received in October, according to CEO Aaron Todd. Air Methods was the 429’s launch customer and since 2004 it had held letters of intent for up to 15. Another helicopter EMS company acquired by Air Methods in 2007, CJ Systems, had letters for another 10.
Air Methods CEO Aaron Todd said the company posted a “good, strong profitable year” in 2009 thanks to a partial rebound in flight hours and lower operating expenses for maintenance and fuel.
Bell Helicopter Textron of Fort Worth, Texas, delivered the first Bell 429 customer aircraft to launch customer Air Methods on August 1, after which S/N 57006 flew south from Bell’s assembly facility in Mirabel, Quebec, to Mercy Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa.
A series of fatal medevac helicopter crashes last year prompted fresh calls for increased industry regulation, and by November the FAA had announced changes to the operations specifications governing helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) flights under Part 135. Those covered flight planning, weather minimums and the use of night-vision goggles (NVGs).
Air Methods purchased Omniflight’s Rescue Air operations in Atlanta and North Georgia and plans to consolidate the current operating bases of Air Methods and Rescue Air 1 into six locations in Covington, Gainesville, Griffin, Kennesaw, Newnan and a sixth yet-undetermined base serving the I-75 and I-575 corridors.
Eurocopter EC 135T2+, La Crosse, Wis., May 10, 2008–Three people–the pilot, a physician and a flight nurse–were killed when the Air Methods helicopter crashed into trees and the ground. The EC 135 hit the top of the ridgeline, where tree strikes and main rotor blade fragments were found, and the main wreckage landed on the far side of the ridgeline.