Our Aircraft Fleet - CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health System

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Our Aircraft Fleet

Pilatus PC-12

H130 AircraftThe first fixed-wing aircraft in the Flight For Life fleet was unveiled in November 2016. The Pilatus PC-12 is a single-engine turboprop-powered aircraft with the capability to fly in icing conditions and gives Flight For Life a primary service area of 350 miles and a secondary service area of 1,000+ miles. The larger cabin size of this fixed-wing aircraft accommodates greater specialty equipment and treatment modalities that are challenging to fit inside the cabin of a helicopter. The PC-12 is designed to perform in multiple roles and secure a balance between performance and safety. The aircraft includes a 300-cubic foot pressurized cabin with space for the patient and one family member. The PC-12 has a maximum cruise speed of 285 and a maximum range of over 2,100 miles.

H145

Aircraft Fleet

The H145  (also known as the EC-145 or BK-117 C2) is a profoundly capable medium sized twin engine helicopter.  This family of aircraft has logged over one million flight hours.  The H 145 is equipped with two Turbomeca Arriel 1E2 engines.  These engines deliver excellent performance even in one engine inoperative scenarios.  The EC 145 has an integrated glass cockpit with a systems and engine multifunction display.  It has built-in safety aspects including energy absorbing fuselage and seats, along with crash resistant fuel cells.  The EC 145 is also equipped with Wide Area Augmentation System Instrument Flight Rules (WAAS - IFR) technology.  The IFR package provides the capability to fly in inclement weather.  This technology is similar to that used in commercial airliners.  Flight For Life is the only program in the region to offer WAAS-IFR capable flight.

Rotorspan 36’
Length 43’
Top Speed 133 kts.

H130

H130 AircraftThe H130 (also known as the EC-130B4) is a light single engine helicopter with all the latest technology.  The EC 130 features a large cabin interior for greater patient access.  Its Fenestron tail rotor and automatic control of rotor RPM results in a significantly reduced operating noise.  The H130 features a Turbomeca Arriel 2B1 turbine engine.  It is equipped with a dual channel FADEC digital engine control system.  In the coming year Flight For Life is expecting upgrades in both H130 aircraft to the T2 models that include a more powerful Turbomeca Arriel 2D engine.  The T2 version of the aircraft boast a significant power increase, more advanced glass cockpit, vibration control system, longer range (fuel efficiency), doubled capacity air conditioning, and a crash worthy fuel cell.

Rotorspan 35’
Length 41’
Top Speed 130 kts. (B4)
Max Speed 155 kts.  (T2)

Aviation

Specifications

Both CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances aircraft are equipped with advanced technology to maximize patient and crew member safety in transport. Unlike most air medical helicopters in operation across the country, both CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances helicopters have twin engines to assure flight capability even if one engine were to fail. The lifting power of two engines also provides the capability to fly two patients on each aircraft. In addition, the new craft is equipped with dual pilot capability, as well as emergency ground proximity warning system and autopilot features. When lives are on the line performance is critical. The EC 145 provides the capability to lift over 900 pounds more than the BK 117. This allows the aircraft to carry more fuel to travel farther. The additional weight capability also allows the aircraft to ascend rapidly, as fast as 1,600 feet per minute. The aircraft can travel at a maximum speed of 166 miles an hour, which means if a patient needs to go from CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital to Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, Flight for Life can get them there in less than 40 minutes.

Instrument Flight Rules Technology

Our aircraft are also equipped with instrument flight rules (IFR) technology. The IFR package provides the capability to fly in inclement weather. This technology is similar to that used in commercial airliners.

Weather Reporting Technologies

The new Flight For Life EC 145 is equipped with multiple weather reporting technologies that allow the flight crew to access real time satellite weather reports similar to those a meteorologist displays on the evening news. The satellite weather display is linked to GPS and mapping displays so crew members can see exactly where weather storms are located in relation to accident scenes, hospitals and flight paths. This technology is boosted by integrated terrain and aircraft avoidance systems. In addition to weather patterns, the cockpit screens indicate where other aircraft and tall obstacles like radio towers are in relation to the aircraft. The systems provide visual and audible warnings if the aircraft descends below the altitude set by the crew prior to departure.

Night Visibility

Since many accidents and medical emergencies occur at night, the new aircraft has been built with night vision goggle capabilities. By using night vision goggles identical to those used by our military Special Forces in the Middle East, Flight For Life crew members can literally see in the dark. The goggles work by identifying microscopic “pieces” of light and magnifying them to illuminate the darkness. The goggles are so sensitive that crew members can often see the flashing lights of emergency vehicles from 30 miles away!