DENVER, Co. --- Air Methods Corporation, the largest air medical transportation provider in the United States, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with American Eurocopter to purchase ten AS350 B2/B3 “AStar” helicopters annually, on an indefinite basis. The AStars will join Air Methods’ current fleet of approximately 200 rotary and fixed-wing aircraft, which includes Eurocopter, Bell, MD and Sikorsky helicopters.
“We need additional aircraft because of the forecasted requirements for single engineplatforms in the medical field, and to replace older aircraft which are more costly to operate and maintain” says Archie Gray, Air Methods’ Vice President of Technical Services. “We like the A-Star because of the open cabin, the economical cost of operation and commonality within our fleet.”
By adding B2s and B3s to its fleet on a continuing basis, Air Methods is achieving a fine balance between price, performance, and power.
On the one hand, the 732 shp Turbomeca Arriel 1D1 turbine engine-equipped AS350 B2 is a cost-effective multi-mission workhorse. It can carry up to six people (one pilot and five passengers), cruise at 133 knots, and fly up to 360 nautical miles without using reserve tanks.
On the other hand, the AS350 B3 offers the B2's carrying capacity beefed up with a 847 shp FADEC-equipped Turbomeca Arriel 2B engine capable of boosting this aircraft’s fast cruise speed up to 140 knots, and provides the AS350 B3 the extra power it needs to work in extreme conditions.
Asked when the current B2/B3 annual order MOU will expire, Gray replies, “Right now, we see the Air Medical Services industry continuing to grow, which is why we want to make sure that we have a supply of aircraft to meet the demand.”
Marc Paganini, President and CEO of American Eurocopter, in response to the MOU says, “We are both honored and humbled when committed, innovative customers such as Air Methods choose us as their long-term supplier of choice. It’s an expression of trust that we take very, very seriously.”
American Eurocopter is the American subsidiary of Eurocopter, the largest helicopter manufacturer in the world, and EADS North America, the North American operations of EADS, the second largest aerospace and Defense Company in the world. American Eurocopter markets, sells and supports the broadest range of civil and para-public helicopters offered by any manufacturer. The product line represents the most cost-effective, technologically-advanced helicopters, ranging from light single to heavy twin, serving all markets and missions. American Eurocopter’s headquarters and main facility are in Grand Prairie, TX, with a large new factory in Columbus, Mississippi.