News > EC155 phase-in marks the beginning of a new era for the University of Michigan Health System
August 13, 2012
The University of Michigan Health Systemâ€™s Survival Flight program is being significantly enhanced with the phase-in of three new Eurocopter EC155 helicopters, which will allow the medical flight service to travel further, faster and with less noise during its life-saving operations.
These rotary-wing aircraft â€“ the first of which entered service this month â€“ are the first EC155s for emergency medical operations in the U.S., and are replacing a fleet of three Bell 430 helicopters. Their five-blade main rotors and shrouded Fenestron tail rotors reduce vibration and noise for a smooth ride at high speeds, while the aircraftâ€™s much shorter warm-up time and faster cruising speed shave critical minutes from both ends of flight.
Another key advantage of the EC155s is their 500-mile range, which will allow Survival Flight to fly them as far as Syracuse, New York or Louisville, Kentucky without refueling. The helicopters also have clearance to fly to Canada, and can reach Toronto and beyond.Â
The University of Michigan Health Systemâ€™s EC155s â€“ delivered by American Eurocopter in a distinctive maize-and-blue livery â€“ have advanced equipment and safety features, including the ability to fly in low-visibility conditions. In addition, the aircraft have nearly 50 percent more cabin space for patients and nurses, as well as an all-glass cockpit.
During transport, the helicopters are staffed by two flight nurses who also are licensed as paramedics. Survival Flight is Michiganâ€™s only health care provider to require such a high standard of dual certification, with its 21 full-time nurses cross-trained to treat everyone from newborns to geriatric patients.
In advance of the EC155 service entries, Survival Flightâ€™s mechanics received in-depth training at the Grand Prairie, Texas headquarters of American Eurocopter. Pilots traveled to France for a two-week flight simulation program in addition to a 12-day ground school, and have been certified by the Federal Aviation Administration.
View the Feature archive.