Mercy One helicopter emergency medical services at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, Iowa, one of the first HEMS operators certified to fly Waas low-level IFR routes, including approaches to local hospitals, recently added a second Waas-capable Bell 429 to its fleet. These IFR routes keep helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft from mixing in IFR airspace. Three of the hospital helipad approaches are Waas-based while another is an approach to a helipad in Stuart, Iowa, that is used as a rendezvous for helicopters and ground ambulances from surrounding counties.
Bell Helicopter announced last month that its new 429 light twin has been approved for precise wide area augmentation system (Waas) glidepath operations. The capability will allow the 429 to be flown to point-in-space approaches when the cloud ceiling is as low as 250 feet agl and to conduct steep (9 degrees) localizer precision with vertical guidance (LPV) approaches at a minimum velocity for instrument approaches (Vmini) of 45 knots.