The Eurocopter EC145e was unveiled at a ceremony on 28 June, and replaces a previous aircraft stationed at the Cleveland base. Life Force has said it plans to complete the transition to the new helicopter in early July.
The helicopter was manufactured by Airbus Helicopter and completed by Metro Aviation. It is expected to offer a greater range for operations, as well as more space for personnel and equipment. According to Metro Aviation, the EC145e has a maximum take-off weight of 3,585kg and a useful load of between 122.5kg under instrument flight rules, and 150kg under visual flight rules.
The aircraft is also equipped for the transportation of patients in need of extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, as well as being equipped with balloon pumps for patients who need cardiovascular support.
The helicopter also features a glass cockpit, featuring a three-axis autopilot, a moving map display, a terrain and traffic avoidance system, a color weather radar and the ability to operate under instrument flight rules with a single pilot.
“Prior to the pandemic and certainly during it, we recognized a need in our patient populations to have the ability to transport critical care patients requiring more specialized equipment and additional personnel,” said Life Force Senior Director Robbie Tester. “Our neonatal transport teams routinely require three specialized clinicians to safely move our smallest patients.”
Floridan healthcare provider AdventHealth also recently acquired a new EC145e helicopter to support its own air ambulance operations, which it unveiled in May.