EMS-configured Airbus Helicopters H150. Photo courtesy of Airbus
While Airbus Helicopters felt the effects four years ago of a stagnating market for emergency medical services (EMS) helicopters in the United States due to the 40 percent of non-reimbursed healthcare costs for helicopter EMS, Chris Emerson, CEO of Airbus Helicopters North America, said that sector is a growing one for the company.
"What I feel today is optimism and growth," he said Oct. 23 in a meeting with reporters at the Air Medical Transport Conference (AMTC) in Phoenix. Beyond sales of H125s and H130s for EMS, Emerson said he "absolutely" sees a role for H160s as well in EMS.
The field is adapting cost structures, adopting hospital-based models and looking "closely at bases that make sense and those that don't," Emerson said, adding that customers consider "comprehensive net present value" before deciding on HEMS providers.
While the split between single-engine and twin-engine EMS helicopter sales in the U.S. is 70-to-30, Emerson said that he sees increasing EMS sales of twin-engine models, particularly for the urban market. Airbus makes twin-engine EMS models, such as the H160, the H135, the H145, the H155 and the AS365.
At AMTC, Airbus announced that Sacramento-based Reach Air Medical Services, a subsidiary of Global Medical Response, will add three H125s and two H130s to its fleet this year. Vicky Spediacci, VP of aviation operations for Reach, said in a statement that the Airbus H125 and the H130 "have both found great success in the air medical community because of their reliability and performance."
“Equipped with the advanced avionics packages, autopilot, GPS, terrain avoidance and crash-resistant fuel systems, we are confident they will deliver safe and reliable service to our flight crews and the communities they serve,” she said. The H125 features dual hydraulics, dual-channel engine FADEC and advanced glass-panel cockpit displays, while the H130 has a wide, unobstructed cabin that allows easy loading and unloading of patients, Airbus said.
Airbus said it has produced two-thirds of the EMS helicopters sold in the U.S. in the past 10 years and has provided 1,230 helicopters to 90 EMS operators in the U.S.