Quietly making its debut at this summer’s Paris Air Show was Eurocopter’s long-awaited EC 145. Essentially a stretched, beefed-up version of the hot-selling BK117 (in this case, the C-1 variant of the helicopter that’s come to be the darling of the aeromedical transport market), the EC 145 can seat as many as 10 passengers and crew.
Eurocopter EC 145
The French Sécurité Civile (the state rescue arm) no longer has a defined entry-into-service schedule for its Eurocopter EC 145 twin-turbine helicopters. It has officially taken delivery of the first three of 32 ordered aircraft (a $150 million contract) during the last six months, two years after the originally planned date.
American Eurocopter has sold its first EC 145 in the U.S., to the Lee County (Florida) division of public safety/EMS. The launch customer will use the EC 145 primarily to support Lee County’s EMS operation, which encompasses the cities of Fort Myers, Cape Coral and Bonita Springs as well as 625,000 acres of coastal area and barren islands.
With its 2007 acquisition of Pittsburgh-based CJ Systems, Air Methods has become the largest civil air ambulance provider in the country. Integrating CJ into Air Methods has proceeded smoothly, so far, said CEO Aaron Todd, but there are challenges ahead.
Eurocopter closed out the second day of Heli-Expo 2008 with new firm orders and options for more than 200 helicopters with a total value estimated in excess of $1 billion. The company’s firm orders alone were in the neighborhood $850 million, substantially more than the $732 million for all OEM firm commitments disclosed at Heli-Expo’07.
Growing interest from helicopter operators wanting to use night-vision goggles (NVGs) is spurring demand for better training as well. Feedback from long-time NVG users demonstrated that they improve safety, but lessons from the field also highlight the need to use the technology with caution.
Turbomeca, the French helicopter turbine engine manufacturer, predicts the helicopter market overall will experience continued strong growth for the next two years before cooling somewhat. In that span, the company will be working overtime to keep up with demand.
With its acquisition last year of Pittsburgh-based CJ Systems, Air Methods (Booth No. 1043) has become the largest civil air ambulance provider in the country. Integrating CJ into Air Methods has proceeded smoothly, so far, said CEO Aaron Todd, but he admitted there are challenges ahead.
Officials from Aerolite Max Bucher AG, with more than 50 employees in Switzerland and the U.S., are at Booth No. 3401 to promote the company’s role as an independent supplier of helicopter and fixed-wing interiors. Since 1995 Aerolite has delivered more than 100 EC 135 EMS interiors worldwide as well as numerous EMS interiors for the EC 145, Agusta Grand, AW139 and MD Explorer.
Air Methods (Booth No. 1043) has delivered to Mayo Medical Transport of Rochester, Minn., a “comprehensively equipped” EC 145 EMS helicopter, the first of that model completed for an operator other than Air Methods’ own aeromedical transport divisions. The new EC 145 is the first of two for the Mayo Clinic. The air medical interior by Denver-based Air Methods can accommodate two critical care patients and three medical attendants.