The man who built Air Methods into the nation’s largest helicopter air ambulance company and was a driving force in the industry during a period of rapid and record growth has retired. Aaron Todd left the company on August 18 following a tenure that began in 1995 when he joined it as CFO. In 2003, Todd became CEO, succeeding George Belsey. Todd’s departure was not unexpected following Air Methods' transformation from a publicly traded to a privately held company in 2017 as a result of its acquisition by American Securities LLC in a $2.5 billion deal. That transaction provided key company investors and executives, including Todd, with multimillion-dollar stock payouts and other substantial compensation.
Todd has been replaced by aviation industry veteran Stephen Gorman, whose experience includes serving as executive vice president and COO of Delta Airlines between 2007 and 2014, vice president of operations for Aviall, and current and past board memberships with Aeormexico, Timco Aviation, and Pinnacle Airlines.
Under Todd’s leadership, Air Methods embarked on an aggressive path of organic growth and acquisitions, spreading its coverage network to 48 states. Notable air medical acquisitions included CJ Systems in 2007, Omniflight Helicopters in 2011, and Tri-State Care Flight in 2016. In 2011 the company also established a joint air ambulance venture in Turkey, Helistar. Air Methods created an Air Tourism division in 2012, acquiring both Las Vegas-based Sundance Helicopters and Blue Hawaiian Helicopters in that year. By the end of 2016, the company’s air medical fleet consisted of 369 company-owned aircraft, 76 leased aircraft, and 49 customer-owned aircraft, while its Air Tourism division operated a fleet of 62 aircraft.
In 2015, Todd announced what was perhaps the largest single order of civil medevac helicopters in history from a non-governmental entity—a 10-year, $600 million (retail value) deal with Bell for 200 Model 407GXP singles.
Air Methods, in cooperation with FlightSafety International, opened the (Denver) Colorado Learning Center in 2017, providing Level-D simulation training for the Airbus AS350 B3, EC130T2, and Bell 407GX singles and the Airbus EC135 twin. The center provides training for the majority of the company’s 1,300 pilots. Last year the company also moved its headquarters into the Denver Technology Center in Greenwood, Colorado.
Todd’s leadership was not without controversy. In a recent study, the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) noted that Air Methods’ average patient flight charge increased from $13,000 in 2007 to $49,800 in 2016 and the company quickly became a favorite media target featuring beleaguered families with large medevac bills who were unable to pay. In his first public move as the company’s new CEO, on August 22 Gorman announced that the company is partnering with health insurer Anthem to provide air ambulance services as part of in-network health benefits to policy holders in Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin.