14-Feb-2012 Source: American Eurocopter
Air Methods has entered into a lease agreement with American Eurocopter to use its AS350 Level B full motion flight simulator for the operatorâ€™s pilot training program. Pending final FAA approval of the training course, the program is anticipated to begin simulator training in the second quarter of this year.
â€œFull motion simulation has not been prevalent, especially in training for single engine helicopters, due to the cost,â€ said Marc Paganini, President and CEO of American Eurocopter. â€œNewer technologies have enabled the development of more helicopters simulators, and we are proud to have this AS350 unit here in Grand Prairie, and very pleased that Air Methods recognizes the benefit of simulator training and will be using it for their primary training.â€
American Eurocopter owns the only AS350 Level B full motion flight simulator in the world. The simulator is located at the companyâ€™s Grand Prairie, TX facility. Four of Air Methodsâ€™ Certified Compliance Evaluators (CCE) will be based in Grand Prairie and will oversee the training program. American Eurocopter also has a convertible EC135/145 simulator at its Grand Prairie facility.
â€œThe availability of American Eurocopterâ€™s full motion simulator gave us the opportunity to pursue this training tool for our AStar pilots,â€ said Chris Bassett, Director of Operations for Air Methods. â€œWe are really pleased with how this will enhance our training, as the simulator will afford us opportunities that we canâ€™t really perform in actual aircraft. We will be able to set up scenarios that are representative of the type of flying we do and the situations that our pilots face every day. It also gives us more flexibility with our training schedule. For example, we can train with night vision goggles without having to wait for non-daylight hours.â€
Air Methods currently employs 453 AS350 pilots, who will cycle through the simulator once a year for their annual recurrent training. The operator will also use the simulator for initial training for new hires and for pilots transitioning from other helicopter models to the AS350. There will be a helicopter on-site, as well, that will be used for check rides after the simulator training is completed.
â€œIn addition to the safety and other benefits simulator training will provide us, our AS350 customers will benefit, as well,â€ continued Bassett. â€œWe wonâ€™t have to take AS350 aircraft out of service for training nearly as much, lessening downtime and scheduling challenges.â€
Air Methods has been very proactive with HEMS safety and over the last few years has instituted several initiatives dedicated to improving safety. â€œWe are committed to safety and continue to be at the forefront of applying best practices from the commercial aviation industry to our operation,â€ Bassett added. â€œWe see simulator training as another step in encouraging safety improvements in the air medical community. We will be looking at other simulator solutions for the rest of our fleet.â€
Air Methods Corporation (www.airmethods.com) is a leader in emergency aeromedical transportation and medical services. The Hospital Based Services Division is the largest provider of air medical transport services for hospitals. The Community Based Services Division is one of the largest community-based providers of air medical services. The United Rotorcraft Division specializes in the design and manufacture of aeromedical and aerospace technology. Air Methodsâ€™ fleet of owned, leased or maintained aircraft features over 400 helicopters and fixed wing aircraft.