Mercy Flights has announced that it has acquired a new Bell 407GXi helicopter, which is due to begin service in early February pending Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) approval.
The helicopter features Rolls-Royce Rolls Royce M250-C47E/4 dual-channel FADEC turbine engines and can reach cruise speeds of 133 kts (246 km/h), with a range of 337 nautical miles (624km).
The non-profit air ambulance provider, which serves the US regions of southern Oregon and northern California, said that the new rotorcraft will help it meet growing demand across its operating area.
The new helicopter will improve access to rural areas across southern Oregon
Mercy Flights CEO Sheila Clough stated that the decision to add a helicopter to the organization’s fleet was made due to the low accessibility and rural nature of southern Oregon, and followed an extensive community needs assessment, including input from flight teams as well as healthcare and community partners.
The acquisition was also supported through access to a non-profit financing option provided by the Oregon Facilities Authority.
“When we looked carefully at the current and future needs of our neighbors and our health care partners, it was clear that a new helicopter was the answer to enhance the care and service we provide for our communities,” said Clough. “The special loan rates will allow us to expand our fleet while maintaining affordable memberships and services.”
The decision was also guided by the improving quality of advanced or tertiary hospital care in southern Oregon, which has led to more patients staying in the region for treatment.
Clough explained: “We anticipate, in the near future, fewer flights to bigger cities like Portland and Seattle because our local healthcare partners are providing incredible care right here at home. What we need in our region is additional capacity for transport to and between facilities.”
Fellow US-based medical transport network Life Flight Network also plans to acquire12 Bell 407GXi aircraft, following the signing of a purchase agreement with Bell Textron in November 2021.