American Eurocopter has signed the first long-term commercial customer for the full-motion EC 135/EC 145 training device at its Grand Prairie, Texas campus. Stat MedEvac will use the simulator to train EC 135 and EC 145 air medical service crews operating in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio and the District of Columbia. The U.S. Army began using the simulator last December to train crews for the UH-72A Lakota, an EC 145 variant.
Eurocopter EC 145
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.
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.
The Eurocopter EC 145 is carving a growing niche among EMS helicopter operators for one main reason: cabin space. The EC 145 features 213 cu ft of cabin space and 50.8 sq ft of tracked flat floor space with enough room, in a pinch, for two patient litters and three medical attendants.
Choices that air medical operators will make about investing limited resources in safety equipment are price-sensitive. For this reason, enhanced-vision systems without night-vision goggles’ expensive recurrent training requirements may be seen as a more viable alternative by many EMS operators. However, in addition to choosing NVG or EVS, some HEMS operators are flying with both.
French civil aviation authority DGAC, Eurocopter and the French association of EMS doctors (AFHSH) late last year tested a satnav IFR route between two hospitals, with the goal of easing patient transfer. The next phase in the trials will involve carrying patients in the EC 145. The partners hope to use this GPS route permanently later this year, thus enabling operations in most weather.
Last month the Aviation Unit of Miami-Dade Police Department took delivery of the first of four new Eurocopter AS 350B3s. The remaining three helicopters will be delivered at the rate of one annually over the next three years. In Texas, the Department of Public Safety took delivery of its first EC 145.
Petroleum Air Services (PAS) of Egypt plans to add a third Eurocopter EC 135 helicopter to its fleet and has taken out options for a further two. It received its first EC 135 in late 2007 and the second earlier this year. The aircraft are used to transport oil workers from the Egyptian mainland to offshore oil platforms.
Having established a strong position with the French-German Eurocopter joint venture, avionics maker Thales of Paris is now seeking to achieve greater export sales of its civil helicopter avionics. Gil Michielin, general manager of Thales Helicopter Avionics, explained that unlike the military sector the U.S. civil rotorcraft market is open to competition from foreign companies.
Deliveries of the Eurocopter UH-72A (EC 145) Lakota to the U.S. Army are gathering pace since the first helicopter entered into service in November 2006. Last month the first operational unit received its first aircraft, and the second unit began accepting aircraft a few days ago.