Santa Rosa, Calif.-based air medical transport provider REACH Air Medical Services has obtained FAA approval to begin using its own GPS approaches and routes in Western Oregon.
REACH AgustaWestland AW109. Photo courtesy of REACH.
The authorization allows REACH to begin flying directly to hospitals and landing sites along the Oregon coast and Williamette Valley. REACH is the first helicopter emergency management services (HEMS) program to receive the GPS approval for this area of Oregon, which is often affected by weather that cannot be navigated by visual flight rules alone.
REACH uses a GPS navigation receiver on its fleet of AgustaWestland AW109, Eurocopter EC135 and Bell 407 helicopters with data from five global positioning satellites to pinpoint position in three-dimensional space, with an accuracy of up to 100 feet. The company currently uses GPS routes for hospitals that it serves in Northern California.
The technology allows REACH pilots to "fly extremely precise routes through mountainous terrain on our GPS routing system at lower altitudes than traditional air traffic control routes,” said Vicky Spediacci, vice president of aviation operations. “This affords us safer flight opportunities that keep us out of prohibitive weather conditions, such as icing, for our helicopters.”
Related: Air Medical News