Emphasizing Metro Aviation’s “zeal for safety,” the Shreveport, La.-based company announced at Heli-Expo’09 yesterday that FlightSafety International received FAA approval on Friday for an EC 135/145 level-7 flight simulator that Metro Aviation and FSI jointly developed. The new simulator is expected to go into service this September at FSI’s facility in Lafayette, La.
Under an agreement with Superior Air Ambulance in Chicago (owner of the helicopter), Metro Aviation pilots Matthew Michealson, operational check pilot, and Paul Morrow, chief pilot, flew 120 hours over seven months in Superior’s new green EC 135 to obtain data on the entire flight envelope for the simulator. FSI engineers installed and monitored flight-data collection instrumentation in the aircraft, which did not yet have a cabin interior, as required by FAA requirements.
The entire project took more than three years and cost Metro “in excess of three-quarters of a million dollars,” said Mike Stanberry, president of Metro Aviation.
As its part of the joint venture, FSI built the simulator, got it approved and will operate it.
Here at Heli-Expo, Metro Aviation (Booth No. 2105) is displaying a bright-red EC 135 that it delivered late last year to Reach Air Medical Services of Santa Rosa, Calif. It is the first of three completed EC 135s the HEMS operator will receive from Metro and represents the 120th EC 135 that Metro has completed. “We are booked through next year with Eurocopter completions,” Stanberry said.
Metro Aviation is also showing what it calls an EC 145 Mobile Demonstrator, which holds an air medical cabin interior built into the back of a Dodge Sprinter van.
Originally designed to show Metro’s product offerings and to help customers configure their own interiors, the Mobile Demonstrator has been requested by customers for use as a trainer as well, according to Metro Aviation’s Ken Morrow. “It cost us about a quarter million to configure, but that’s a lot less of an investment than using a $7 million helicopter to show our products,” he said. The Mobile Demonstrator was completed last year.