All 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.
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!