Photo courtesy of Eagle Copters
The Eagle Copters 407HP is helping Air Methods HEMS crews in Denver to access higher altitudes on hotter days and to accomplish missions with a higher degree of safety, according to industry officials.
AirLife Denver is contracting with its FAA Part 135 operator, Air Methods, for 407HP operations at the Sky Ridge Medical Center, which has a helipad at 6,000 feet, and the Frederick Firestone-Fire Protection District.
In July, the Calgary-based Eagle announced the first air medical conversion of a Bell 407 to the Eagle 407HP — a conversion that costs $925,000. The upgrade features the Honeywell HTS900 engine with a dual centrifugal compressor, cooled turbine blades and nozzles, and a dual-channel FADEC. The 407 HP has 22 percent more horsepower than the 407, according to Eagle, and the transmission is guaranteed to 14,000 feet.
While the Bell 407 has performed "really well" for AirLife Denver over the past 20 years, the Honeywell HTS900 engine on the 407HP gives air crews additional capabilities, said Greg Poirier, an Air Methods pilot who flies out of Sky Ridge Medical Center.
"The biggest difference is anytime it gets above 75 degrees in Denver, we start having to manage the fuel and the flight plan," Poirier said of the Bell 407. "If we're going out to eastern Colorado, we have to start looking for a fuel source. Now with the 407HP, we don't have to worry about that as much. We can put on as much fuel as we need to get where we're going. It adds a huge safety margin. ... For our day-to-day operations, it provides a huge margin of safety going from our local hospitals to the Swedish Medical Center, the main hospital we go to and a Level I trauma center. If we're going into some of the hover holds at 5,500 to 6,000 feet, I've got a lot of safety margin."
Part of HCA-HealthONE, AirLife Denver serves as the critical-care air and ground transport for eight hospitals and provides more than 3,000 transports per year.
Eagle said it has delivered 22 of the 407HPs so far and that a significant number of them have been for firefighting duties in North America.
Honeywell has said that the 407 HP's HTS900 consumes less gas — a fuel efficiency that enables the aircraft to spend more time in the air to fight fires.