Metro Aviation has delivered the first U.S.-made Airbus EC145e, it announced on Wednesday morning at Heli-Expo 2020. It is one of two of the medium twins ordered by Duke Health’s Duke Life Flight from the air medical services provider. Metro (Booth 3624) is showcasing the helicopter this week at its Heli-Expo display in Anaheim, California.
The operator's EC145es are equipped with a lightweight IFR package Metro developed and installed at its Shreveport, Louisiana completions facility and headquarters. Duke Life Flight program director René Borghese said the completion process “has been seamless—we actually took delivery sooner than expected.”
A lower-cost variant of the out-of-production EC145C2, the -e model shares its predecessor’s 7,903-pound mtow, but has an increased useful load, service ceiling, and endurance. Also similar to the U.S. Army’s UH-72A Lakota, the EC145e, formerly produced in Donauwörth, Germany, is now built at the same Airbus facility in Columbus, Mississippi, where the Lakota is manufactured.
Airbus Helicopters (Booth 3432, Static Displays 19 and 21) unveiled the EC145e at Heli-Expo 2015 in tandem with naming Metro as its launch customer. At the 2018 gathering, Metro placed a $125 million fleet order for 25 EC145es.
Metro has continued improving the platform, and last year partnered with Genesys AeroSystems to incorporate a single-pilot/dual-pilot IFR avionics system, representing a major update from the original basic VFR panel. The standard medical interior includes extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation, intra-aortic balloon pumps, and nitric oxide ventilation equipment.
Other operators of Metro’s EC145e include Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta; GundersonAir; West Michigan Air Care; and the University of Utah AirMed. These ships were made in Donauwörth.
Though the platform’s cost is unannounced, Metro said the starting price point is “well below comparably sized aircraft,” and it has taken orders for more than 20 of the helicopters.
Metro also expects to receive Transport Canada certification for the EC145e’s IFR package this year. This certification will come ahead of expected 2020 delivery of an IFR-capable EC145e to Canadian EMS operator Airmedic.