Guardian Flight helps hospitals in Alaska

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Global Medical Response (GMR) company, Guardian Flight, has announced it will open its first rotor wing base at Kenai Municipal Airport, Alaska in spring 2020.

 

The Airbus H125 helicopter will begin to serve Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula’s hospitals such as South Peninsula Hospital in Homer, Central Peninsula Hospital in Soldotna and Providence Seward Medical Center in Seward.

 

“GMR and Guardian Flight Alaska are pleased to expand our service to now include helicopter support for emergency patient airlifts in addition to interfacility transfers,” said GMR VP of Northwest Operations, Jared Sherman. “We greatly appreciate the warm welcome our helicopter team has received from the communities we serve and the medical community.”

 

The base will operate 24 hours, accommodating a crew of four pilots, four clinicians and two mechanics with room to carry a pilot, patient, nurse and paramedic as well as necessary medical equipment.

 

Guardian’s first helicopter air medical base will join 11 fixed wing medically equipped aircraft that serve across Alaska. The company is also a provider in the AirMedCare Network (AMCN), the nation’s largest air medical transport membership programme, which means that it will fly threateningly injured or ill members for no flight cost, only relying on the member’s insurance as a payment. This program reaches more than 320 air medical location across 38 states.

Editor’s comment: The rise and rise of Russ..

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There’s a saying that advises not to “put all your eggs in one basket,” but it appears that Russian Helicopters has not heard it or has chosen to ignore it. Has it made any difference to the company’s huge investment in its Ansat light multipurpose helicopter – it appears not!

The recent installation of an Ansat simulator at the Kazan Helicopter Plant (KHP) of the Russian Helicopters Holding (part of the Rostec State Corporation) is an indication of how much faith the company has in the type.

“The popularity of Ansatov in the market is constantly growing, and therefore it became necessary to train representatives of operating organisations on this type of helicopter. In order to carry out a full training cycle, in addition to theoretical and practical training is also needed for the training of specialists. With the advent of the aviation training centre KHP integrated simulator, Ansat helicopter will be provided with a full cycle of quality retraining of pilots,” stated Yury Pustovgarov, the MD of the Kazan Helicopter Plant.

Just days later, further announcements focusing on the Ansat revealed that approval had been granted by the Federal Air Transport Agency to produce the type with a superior cabin style from the Aurus brand. This announcement will allow mass production of the Ansat to begin with this modification.  The layout of the cabin includes two seats for VIP passengers and a further three for accompanying passengers. In order to increase passenger comfort several modular concepts were tested. The result means that the Ansat has the largest cabin in its class, which, combined with the newly installed design solutions offers a significant upgrade in passenger comfort.

As if this was not enough, the People’s Republic of China has approved validation of the type, which means that the type can now be supplied to the nation under a previously agreed contract. It was back in 2018 that Russian Helicopters signed a contract to supply 20 Ansat helicopters to the Chinese Emergency and Disaster Relief Association.

At this rate, I just wonder how long it will be before the Ansat starts making inroads into Europe in a multitude of roles.

Southern Utah University adds Bell 505 Jet Ra..

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Bell Textron Inc. announced on 2 March that it had signed a purchase agreement with Southern Utah University (SUU) for a Bell 505 Jet Ranger X to add to its existing fleet of helicopters for student training.

Southern Utah University provides training for rotary or fixed-wing pilot courses. These courses share a common core of common education and general aviation core courses. SUU Aviation is a university flight training programme in Cedar City, Utah with the largest collegiate helicopter fleet in the nation and the most robust flight training capabilities.

“We’re proud to offer our students of the Professional Pilot Aviation Program at SUU with one of the market’s newest and most technologically advanced short light single aircraft,” Mike Mower, executive director, SUU Aviation. “We’ve conducted training using a Bell 206L for several years so adding the Bell 505 to our fleet is the logical decision that will allow us to offer advanced pilot and technical training for the industry’s future aviators.”

SUU’s additional special curriculum courses include turbine transition, external load, night-vision goggles, mountain flying, SFAR 73 Transition, and both single engine and multi-engine fixed wing training. The university also offers pilot licenses and ratings for private pilot, instrument rating, commercial pilot, certified flight instructor, certified flight instructor: instrument

“As the industry faces a shortage of fixed and rotor wing pilots, it is critical to offer safe, high quality education like SUU’s Professional Pilot Aviation training program,” said Greg Maitlen, regional sales manager, Bell, North America. “The Bell 505 is the only aircraft in its class that offers operations at 22,500ft density altitude and will be instrumental in training requirements, specifically the mountain flying course.”

Opportunity knocks for Gama

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Gama Aviation has seen a gap within UK HEMS operations and is now making its move into the market, with the launch of a trio of Airbus H145s. A pair of the aircraft will be permanently equipped for EMS work and will begin serving with the Scottish Ambulance Service from 1 June 2020 – one of each being based at Glasgow and Inverness Airports.

The third helicopter will serve as maintenance cover for the EMS pair but will also have the potential to perform other roles including powerline and windfarm support and VVIP work.

The Airbus H145 was the choice for Gama, as the Scottish contact requires a specific type to perform the role.

Gama’s Head of Rotary, Andrew Lister told Rotorhub, during the unveiling ceremony at Farnborough on 2 March, that each of the H145 is equipped with an Aerolite air medical interior, a Trakka searchlight mounted on the port landing skid an array of six belly-mounted LED lights which are extremely useful for off-site landings.

All the helicopters are fitted with longer skids to allow the attachment of floats if required, although Lister stated that “most of operations will be within 10 minutes flight of land.”

To support the helicopters and their operations in Scotland, Mark Gascogine, MD, Europe Air at Gama explained to Rotorhub that the company is in discussions with “three to four” other air ambulance operators and is actively seeking to grow in the market in the UK and possibly in Europe.

Coptersafety signs agreement with MINT Softwa..

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MINT Software Systems, manufacturer of training management solutions for aviation, has announced a service agreement with Coptersafety, a helicopter training centre in Helsinki, Finland. The partnership will see the implementation of web-based training management system MINT TMS.

MINT TMS will provide instructors and trainees online access to schedules, electronic grading forms, reports, learning materials and other training-related data. The system is expected to optimise the management of instructor allocation, classroom distribution and the planning of flight simulator schedules. 

MINT Software Systems hopes to provide a quicker training planning process to improve workflow, enhancing the efficiency for instructors and crews in training. The web-based training and qualification management software has been used around the world to optimise the entire process for customers.

“We were looking for a modern, web-based, and highly configurable training planing and qualifications management platform. I believe with MINT TMS, we have found the perfect fit,” said Erkka Suvikumpu, CEO at Coptersafety. “MINT will replace some of our legacy tools and will help to significantly increase the effectiveness and readiness of our entire training organisation.”

Helicopter Association International remember..

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Helicopter Association International (HAI) has sadly announced the passing of Matthew S. Zuccaro, the immediate past President and CEO of the association. 

Zuccaro became an HAI member in the early 1980’s and has since moved through the association with his vast knowledge and experience in the aviation industry. He was elected to the HAI Board of Directors in 1987 and served as chairman in 1991. Following that, he was named President of HAI in 2005, working until retirement in January of this year. In the same month he was honoured with the FAA’s Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award at the HAI HELI-EXPO 2020. 

Amongst his many positions with the association, Zuccaro accumulated 50 years of professionalism and pilot skills. One of his largest accomplishments was a column he wrote in ROTOR magazine in 2013, encouraging pilots to land in situations in potentially dangerous situations for passenger and pilot. This led to HAI’s Land & LIVE programme, a long-term campaign to improve safety by reminding pilots to use their aircraft’s capabilities to land at any sign of danger. “A fitting legacy for a man who was passionate about safety in the industry he loved so much.”

SAR support agreement between Cobham and Heli..

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Global aviation business HeliSpeed has signed an agreement to provide Cobham with pilots from its HeliTrax database, which lists more than 1,200 qualified pilots. They will support the Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard.

Cobham Aviation Services is a provider of specialised operational readiness, special mission training and operational delivery solutions to government agencies worldwide. Cobham successfully delivered a turnkey rotary wing SAR service to the Dutch Caribbean Coastguard. Now, HeliSpeed will globally assist Cobham in providing experienced SAR crews and instructors.

HeliSpeed has built a solid reputation of providing the expertise of pilots and crews closer together by matching their diverse range of skill sets to the needs of specific operators.

“We are looking forward to working in partnership with HeliSpeed and are confident in receiving pilots which meet the same high levels of skill, experience and certification as our own crews,” said Spike Jepson, Vice-President Flight Operations, Cobham Aviation Services.

Four H160s for the French Navy’s SAR mi..

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The French Armament General Directorate (DGA) is to supply four H160s to the French Navy for search and rescue missions through a partnership between Airbus Helicopters, Babcock, and Safran Helicopter Engines. The French Navy will start operating these helicopters in 2022 for a period of ten years. This interim fleet of H160s will enable the French Navy to ensure the continuity of these critical missions as the Alouette III retires from service and pending Guépard deliveries. Airbus Helicopters, and its partners, will also be responsible for supporting the fleet with a high level of availability and performance commitments. In addition, French Navy operational feedback will be monitored to benefit the design of the military version of the H160 and its support system.

“We are proud that the French Navy will be operating the H160 for their search and rescue missions. We are sure that the improved situational awareness, increased pilot assistance, and visibility that the H160 provides will prove to be a valuable asset for their critical and demanding missions”, said Bruno Even, Airbus Helicopters CEO. “Our industrial partnership with Babcock and Safran Helicopter Engines will allow us to ensure the highest level of availability for the French Navy and we are honoured to have been entrusted with this mission”.

The H160, as a next generation medium twin engine aircraft, powered by Arrano engines, was designed to be a modular helicopter in order to address missions ranging from offshore transportation, private and business aviation, emergency medical services, and public services. Its entry into service is planned for later in 2020. First deliveries of the equally modular military version, the H160M, or Guépard as it known in the French armed forces are planned in 2026. 169 H160Ms are foreseen in the frame of the Joint Light Helicopter programme (Hélicoptère Interarmées Léger: HIL) to replace five types of helicopters in service in the French armed forces.

Bell and Pratt & Whitney ease maintenance..

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Pratt & Whitney have announced that Bell 212, 412, 427 and 429 helicopter customers can now benefit from a single point of contact for enrollment and assistance in aircraft and engine maintenance plans. When enrolling a helicopter into Bell’s Customer Advantage Plan (CAP), customers will also have the option to sign up for a Pratt & Whitney Eagle Service Plan (ESP) for their engine maintenance needs.

“We are pleased to work with Bell to offer out customers a more convenient way to maximise the value of their aircraft and engines,” said Satheeshkumar Kumarasingam, VP, customer service for P&W. With and Eagle Service Plan, customers can keep their engines performing at their best and ready to take off at a moment’s notice. They can also reduce unplanned maintenance and expenses, while increasing time between maintenance events.”

Bell is equipped and authorised to support the P&W pay-per-hour ESP to helicopter owners and can simultaneously register customers for CAP and ESP. Bell 427 and 429 helicopter owners can choose ESP Platinum or Gold coverage for their PW207 engines, and Bell 212 and 412 helicopter owners can select ESP Gold or Gold Lite for their PT6T Twin-Pac engines.

Reaching for the STARS in Manitoba

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Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service (STARS) has almost reached its goal of CAN$13 million for an upgraded helicopter that will serve Manitoba.

The Airbus H145 will replace the BK117 which is nearing the end of its operational service. STARS spokesperson Shandy Walls explains their current models are no longer being produced and becoming costly to maintain and source parts for.

Walls stated the new helicopter will be more technologically advanced flying intensive care unit and has more interior space, which will be appreciated by the crew. The helicopter also has a smaller footprint allowing it to operate in even more confined areas that the BK117 is not able to land in.

The change is part of an upgrading that the air ambulance services across Canada are undergoing to move from the two helicopter types in service: eight BK117s and three AW139s to a single one-type fleet.

With each new helicopter costing $13 million each, one has been ordered for Manitoba, but Walls notes that another $5 million is needed from the province in order to have the helicopter in place by next spring.

The Pembina Valley, within Manitoba remains one of the most active regions for STARS and the region’s population is a strong supporter of the flight.