July 19, 2012 - Peoria, Illinois

OSF Aviation Launches New Fleet of Medical Air Ambulances

OSF Aviation has launched a new fleet of OSF Life Flight and OSF Lifeline medical air ambulances. There are four helicopters in all, two based in Peoria, IL and one each in Peru, IL and Rockford, IL.

OSF Aviation is part of OSF Saint Francis, Inc., which is owned and operated by OSF Healthcare System.

=Images= | New FleetThe new helicopters are EC145s manufactured by American Eurocopter. Each has the capability of holding up to two patients and four others including the pilot and medical team members.

OSF Aviation began the search for replacement aircraft more than a year ago in an effort to update older technology as well as alleviate parts, support and availability issues with its current fleet of Bell 230s, which are about 15 years old.

The EC145’s performance, versatility and range provide operators with multi-mission capabilities in a medium-class, twin-engine helicopter. The safety features of the aircraft, including high set main and tail rotors, and the large cabin and rear-loading clamshell doors, have made it the helicopter of choice for a large number of EMS programs in the United States and worldwide. These characteristics also helped in the decision for OSF Aviation.

“We knew that the EC145 would provide us with the extra range and the power to carry extra weight when needed,” said Brent Grady, OSF Aviation Executive Director. “With the additional space offered by the EC145’s cabin, this allows us the capabilities to fly team flights, carry isolettes, and dual patients if the mission requires.”

In an effort to minimize the financial outlay necessary for such an important upgrade, OSF Aviation has chosen to lease the new helicopters. If purchased outright, each helicopter would cost approximately \$7 million, which includes a significant investment in safety features that provide added protection for patients and crew members.

Some of the key safety features in the new fleet include:

  • Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS). This allows us to fly Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) when other helicopters can’t as we are able to fly in the clouds without relying on visual reference points.
  • Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System. Lets pilots know if they are too close to the ground or if other obstructions are close.
  • Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS). Allows pilots to see other air traffic in the area.
  • Up-to-the-minute satellite weather information and Storm Scope. Indicates lightning strikes in the immediate area.
  • Sky Connect Satellite Tracking System. Allows our aircraft to be tracked at all times while in flight by a flight communication specialist. Calls can routed through a satellite phone if necessary.
  • Night vision goggles. Allow us to see more clearly when flying at night or when there are low light levels.
  • Super night scanner search lights.

About OSF HealthCare’s Air-Medical Transport Programs

OSF Saint Francis Life Flight (Peoria, Illinois) and OSF Saint Anthony Lifeline (Rockford, Illinois) programs are  24-hour helicopter air-medical transport services. These teams of physicians, nurses, pilots and mechanics average 2,200 patient transfers each year, making them a part of the busiest aeromedical operation unit in the State of Illinois. The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis have led the way in air-medical transport helicopter service in Illinois since 1981, and together, OSF HealthCare’s Life Flight and Lifeline services combine to be one of the premier flight programs in the United States

About OSF HealthCare

OSF HealthCare, owned and operated by The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, Peoria, Illinois, includes OSF Healthcare System consisting of eight acute care facilities, one long-term care facility and two colleges of nursing. It also has a physician organization, employing more than 600 physicians in various specialties and nearly 50 mid-level providers which are part of the OSF Medical Group.  OSF HealthCare owns an extensive network of home health services known as OSF Home Care Services and also owns OSF Saint Francis, Inc., comprised of healthcare-related businesses, and OSF Healthcare Foundation, the philanthropic arm of OSF Healthcare System and OSF Home Care.  Additionally there are three service lines focusing on children’s, cardiovascular and neuroscience services.

About American Eurocopter

American Eurocopter is the U.S. affiliate of Eurocopter, the largest helicopter manufacturer in the world, and a subsidiary of EADS North America Holdings, the North American operations of EADS, the second largest aerospace and defense company in the world. American Eurocopter is a helicopter manufacturer and markets, sells and supports the broadest range of civil and para-public helicopters offered by any manufacturer. American Eurocopter’s headquarters and main facility are in Grand Prairie, TX with a large manufacturing and production facility in Columbus, MS.

Shelli Dankoff / Senior Media Relations Specialist 309.655.3897
Jon McKee / Director, Public Relations and Communications – OSF Saint Francis, Inc 309.683.9301