Air Evac Lifeteam officials recently announced the commitment to upgrade its entire fleet of Bell 206 Long Rangers and Bell 407 helicopters over the next three years. The company, headquartered in O’Fallon, MO, announced it will equip its entire fleet of more than 130 aircraft with Cobham HeliSAS/Autopilot and Garmin 500H glass cockpits.
Seth Myers, president of Air Evac Lifeteam, says this is the next step in Air Evac’s commitment to safety.
“Cobham’s HeliSAS Autopilot and Stability Augmentation System enhances flight safety by reducing pilot workload and increasing flight stability,” Myers says. “Since we adhere to Visual Flight Rules, this new system, together with the Garmin 650 and Garmin 500H (glass cockpit), will allow the pilot to focus on other things outside the aircraft.”
Tony Bonham, senior director of flight operations for Air Evac Lifeteam, said the newly upgraded systems are most valuable in an inadvertent IMC event (instrument meteorological conditions).
“It’s difficult to maintain control of the aircraft in the clouds or fog, snow or rain, or thick smoke,” he says. “In the case of an inadvertent IMC, the aircraft will fly itself. The system will keep the aircraft upright.”
Air Evac Lifeteam is the largest independently owned and operated air medical service in the United States. It is also the largest provider under one name to earn accreditation by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Services (CAMTS), which is the gold standard for patient care and safety across the operational spectrum of air medical transport services.
Air Evac Lifeteam’s experienced and proficient team of pilots undergo extensive hands-on training every four months. Currently, more than 90 of the company’s pilots have been trained on the Cobham HeliSAS/Autopilot system.