Last year, Metro Aviation put more than $250,000 into a panel truck interior that exactly matches the medical interior that the Shreveport, La. helicopter maintenance, modification and interiors specialist offers in the Eurocopter EC 145.
The idea was to create not a reasonable facsimile, but “an exact, working duplicate EC 145 medical interior,” down to the cabin interior shell and panels obtained from the helicopter manufacturer.
Finding the right van was a major effort, according to product development manager Russell Garner. A Dodge Sprinter–which he found at a Chicago dealership–fit the bill, in terms of size and a requirement for sliding doors on either side.
The installation of the interior took about eight months, with employees working off the clock and weekends, “so as not to interrupt the normal flow of interior installation work,” said Garner. The finished product is exactly what a standard medical interior from Metro Aviation would look like in an EC 145, including seating for three that can be altered to include a second patient litter.
Last October, the van hit the road and has been examined by six different customers interested in a medical interior installation in an EC 145. “They can get a feel for how it looks, how it functions, and what modifications they might want to make to the standard interior,” explained Garner. To make it easier, Metro also includes access to a Catia 3-D virtual interior program to further refine design modifications.