The past year has brought about more changes for West Michigan Air Care. Our partnership with Metro Aviation has grown, and we are excited about the changes from our new aircraft design and advances in our flight tracking system. Despite having bid difficult goodbyes to a few long time employees, who have moved on to other roles and opportunities, we have also welcomed have several new faces among our crew that we would like to introduce.
To start, giving some explanation to our current profile, our new EC 145 aircraft is owned and operated by Metro Aviation, Inc., based in Shreveport, Louisiana. They are a worldwide provider of completion services for all missions and types of helicopters and specializes in the EC135 and EC145 with several Supplemental Type Certificates (STC) developed by the company for these and other aircraft. Metro is an FAA approved repair station, approved Airbus (Eurocopter) Service Center and FAR Part 135 air medical operations provider at several locations across the United States. The company is privately held and is one of the largest traditional air medical providers in the country. For additional information regarding Metro Aviation, Inc. please visit their website www.metroaviation.com.
West Michigan Air Care's new helicopter, the EC145e, is the newest edition of the Airbus Helicopters EC145 platform. Introduced at HELI-EXPO 2015, Metro Aviation configured what they call the "e-lite" for display at the largest helicopter exhibition in the world.
Combining the well-known features of the EC145, such as the large cabin and reliability, with the benefits of a simplified avionics systems and completed with dedicated mission equipment, the affordable and light twin helicopter is well suited for air medical, law enforcement, utility, offshore oil and gas, and other missions.
"The EC145e takes a proven aircraft, with proven performance and proven capability, but it comes at a lower cost of acquisition and operation that will add incremental value for customers in a variety of market segments," said Treg Manning, Vice President, Sales & Marketing for Airbus Helicopters Inc.
The versatile EC145e includes a Single Pilot VFR glass cockpit. It has a maximum takeoff weight of 7,903 lbs., the same as the EC145 C2 variant, but the useful load is increased by as much as 330 lbs. The aircraft can seat up to 11 passengers, based on the chosen configuration. Typical mission profile for Air Care is crew of 1 pilot, 2 nurses, (occasionally an ER resident) a fuel load of approximately 2.5 hours (which will usually enable to Detroit and back), altitude 1500' above the ground, cruise speed in the neighborhood of 130 knots (149 mph) and 1 patient.
Recently, Metro Aviation displayed West Michigan Air Care's EC145e at the Air Medical Transport Conference, October 16-18, in Fort Worth, Texas. Air Care joined the Metro family as an operations customer in 2016 and chose the EC145e as their aircraft of choice after flying it temporarily during the transition period with Metro.
In the last two years, Metro has partnered with Genesys Aerosystems to obtain supplemental type certificates (STC) for the installation of the Genesys Helicopter Autopilot and Stability Augmentation System (HELISAS) and Genesys Electronic Flight Instrument System (EFIS) that should allow the aircraft to be operated in a single-pilot IFR operation.
The pilots and full-time maintenance staff based here at West Michigan Air Care are employed by Metro Aviation, however our medical crew and office support staff still remain employees of West Michigan Air Care. Despite the division, we work cohesively to maintain our mission, safety and dedication to serving Southwest Michigan, and the surrounding regions, remains unchanged.
Flight Vector and other new things are up and coming in the Communication Center at West Michigan Air Care.
On November 1, 2017, West Michigan Air Care introduced a new dispatch program called Flight Vector. Flight Vector allows the Communication Center to enter all of the needed information on hospitals, EMS and Central Dispatches Centers, as well as patient information required, and provides flight following of our aircraft on a moving map that updates every 10 seconds showing altitude and speed. The map also creates a corridor that is one mile both sides of a straight, point to point line. The Communicators watch the aircraft, and if the aircraft goes out of the corridor, Communication will advise the pilot and ask for a reason just to make sure all is well.
Flight Vector will do a number of things for West Michigan Air Care in the near future as well. Information in Flight Vector will be able to connect with EMS Charts, the electronic based charting system used by the medical crew, and start the Flight Nurse's medical documentation, by downloading information and start the billing process. We can also connect with EMResource, the program West Michigan Air Care Communication Center uses for Kalamazoo County Medical Control Center and the 5th District Medical Control Center.
We are looking forward to offering the Metro Aviation app that select Hospitals, Central Dispatch Centers and EMS Agencies will be able to use to request our aircraft from a mobile device or desktop. The details of this are still in the early phases but we are looking forward to launching this program so stay tuned for more details.