A Robinson R66 is being used in Colombia as a pediatric air ambulance. It is flying alongside Westwind 1124A and Learjet 31 jets with Fundacion Cardiovascular de Colombia (FCV).
Doctors at FCV are using the R66 to reach pediatric patients in remote areas. The back seat of the R66 has been replaced with a bench, an incubator and other medical equipment in accordance with FAA “Form 337” rules. A typical flight of one hour replaces a ground transportation trip of four to nine hours, which for some infants was just too long.
The whole program was led by the hospital’s CEO Dr. Victor Raul Castillo Mantilla, who had been looking at helicopter solutions and previously ruled the idea out on cost grounds. The launch of the R66 gave him a new option with purchase and operating costs in a range that the hospital was able to consider. The power of the R66 was another key consideration due to the hospital’s location in Bucaramanga, a city at 3100 feet (945m) elevation in the Colombian Andes.
The program’s chief pilot is Jaime Lozano, a former Colombian Army pilot. Lozano has thirteen years of experience in larger turbines and was initially hesitant about flying the R66. Over fifty missions for the pediatric air ambulance program have been completed in the last 11 months.
Ben Haverdee – HeliHub.com
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