Airbus H130 sets a new standard for EMS missions
Positive reviews for H-135 series light-twin air ambulance

Air medical transport operators are finding the Airbus Helicopters H130 to be an economical, high-performance aircraft that also allows them to provide higher quality care to critically ill and injured patients.

With nearly 25 percent more cabin space than other single engine helicopters, the H130 is giving operators the cabin space and patient access of twin-engine helicopters with single-engine helicopter economics.

“The H130 has really met our expectations,” said Guy Barber, MPH, Director of JeffSTAT, the medical transportation service affiliated with the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia. "We chose the H130 as a complement to our existing Airbus Helicopters fleet which includes the H145 and H135. Our partnership with Air Methods Corp. has allowed us to leverage the advantages and unique capability of each specific airframe type.

H-130 Interior

“The H-130 has proven to be a reliable and capable platform well suited for the types of patients JeffSTAT is called upon to care for. Our medical crews are especially appreciative of the medical compartment and improved patient access it allows,” Barber said.

The JeffSTAT H130 will be on display at the Airbus Helicopters Inc. Booth #401 during the Air Medical Transport Conference held at the Charlotte Convention Center, in Charlotte, N.C. Dec. 13-15. Introduced by Airbus Helicopters in 2012, the H130 has only recently become available in the U.S. market for air medical operations because of high demand from aerial tourism providers. The H130 was designed to meet the requirements of a large, comfortable cabin for passengers and the demands of frequent flights.

“The air medical community’s ongoing challenge is to improve care for patients with increasingly more critical and complex illnesses and injuries, and to handle a growing population of bariatric patients, all while being fiscally responsible. The H130 meets both the clinical and fiscal challenges,” said Jennifer Hardcastle, Air Medical Services Sales Manager for Airbus Helicopters Inc.

The extra space and payload capability of the H130 make it an attractive solution for providing high-quality critical care for larger and more complex patients. The H130 has room for up to three medical crew members and specialty equipment. Providers are often asked to fly family members along with the patients, a task they can accomplish in the H130 because of its cabin size, but typically cannot perform in other single-engine helicopters.

The wide, unobstructed H130 interior has a significant amount of space between the stretcher and cabin. The fully articulating litter system allows for true, full-body patient access as well as the three-axis movement of the patient to maximize airway management and other critical interventions, all while in flight. The large hinged and sliding doors make for easy and rapid patient loading and unloading. Low interior sound levels and a flat floor provide a flexible environment capable of accommodating crew and equipment required for complex patients. An active vibration control system and advanced air conditioning system combine to ensure that crew and patients experience a smooth, comfortable transport.

Lehigh Valley Hospital, in Allentown, Pa. will soon take delivery of a new H130. The choice of the H130 over competing models came down to providing high-quality care at lower costs. “We did our due diligence; people were all saying the same thing. They love the patient access,” said Keith Micucci, Director of Emergency Services. “Healthcare is changing. You have to get smarter. You have to get better, and you’ve got to do it at a lower cost. We’re excited to get the H130.”

Hospital Wing, a Memphis, Tenn.-based air medical program, recently took delivery of its second H130 and plans to equip its fleet with the model. “We’re transitioning to the H130 because of the large cabin size and the service record,” said John Butora, CEO of Hospital Wing. “The H130 is an excellent aircraft. It has fewer maintenance requirements and has an added safety margin, which is important. This helicopter just works for us.”

Enloe FlightCare's H-130

Enloe FlightCare in Chico, Calif. has been operating an H130 for more than a year. “It’s amazing. Every single member of our team loves it,” said Marty Marshall, Director of Enloe Emergency Services and FlightCare, as well as a pilot.

Marshall said the Enloe program no longer has to decline missions involving extremely large patients or those where family members want to accompany the patient. “Within the first month with the H130 we had flown parents with their children, which we couldn’t do before,” Marshall said.

The H130 has performed well in the summer heat and high altitudes of Central California, Marshall said, often operating at density altitudes of 10,000 feet or more. “We’ve had absolutely no issues with hot and high power. We’ve got plenty of power.”

The Turbomeca Arriel 2D turbine engine packs 952 SHP and offers better power margins and range than competing models, with lower direct maintenance costs. Safety enhancements include a cabin design with energy-attenuating seats, a crash-resistant fuel system, and a Vision 1000 flight data recorder.

H135 earns positive reviews from California air medical provider

The powerful twin-engine Airbus Helicopters H135 deftly navigated the heat and high altitude of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains after it was put into service last summer.

California Shock Trauma and Rescue (CALSTAR), the first U.S. air medical transport service to operate the H135, reports the aircraft has exceeded expectations. Based in Sacramento, Calif., CALSTAR took delivery of two H135s in June and began operating the aircraft in air medical missions in July.

“This is a powerful aircraft that responds extremely well to our unique hot and high operating environment,” said Lynn Malmstrom, President, and CEO of CALSTAR. “It performed exactly as advertised, and we could not be more pleased.”

CALSTAR selected the H135 in 2015 following a fly-off with competing models that included tests in late summer heat and high altitude conditions. CALSTAR flies many of its critical patient transports in the Sierra Nevada and nearby foothills, responding to injured hikers, boaters, and cyclists in the summer and skiers in the winter.

CALSTAR helicopters in flight

CALSTAR’s Chief Operations Officer Tad Henderson said flight crews are impressed with the H135’s strength and safety features, including the Garmin GTN 750 fully integrated navigation, communication, and GPS avionics system. This system allows enhanced operation under instrument flight rules, improving safety margins at night or in hazardous weather and terrain.

“The technological advancements made in the H135 in a short time are incredible. These aircraft practically fly themselves,” Henderson said. “When you are operating in an environment as diverse as ours, it’s reassuring to know you have a premier aircraft.”

The new H135s replaced CALSTAR’s remaining four legacy B0105LS helicopters, completing a fleet modernization plan launched in 2012. CALSTAR also operates eight EC135s, the model’s previous version, that it ordered in 2012.

The H135 is the industry reference for light twin-engine helicopters due to its performance, safety features, operating efficiency and cabin flexibility. Equipped with Pratt & Whitney PW206B3 turbine engines and a new, larger main rotor, the H135 provides 440 pounds of greater payload capacity in hot-and-high conditions. It also has improved performance and payload at lower altitudes.

CALSTAR’s longstanding relationship with Airbus Helicopters Inc. made the decision to acquire the H135 simple, Malmstrom said. “Taking a risk on a new platform might be perceived as a risk to some, but our long and trusted relationship with Airbus Helicopters made it easy to acquire another Airbus product,” he said. “We continue to be incredibly happy with the H135.”

BlueSky Business Aviation News | 15th December 2016 | Issue #396