Saturday, December 26, 2020

Airbus AS350B2, N205AM: Donated by Air Methods to Mercy Air Africa

MMS Aviation of Coshocton, Ohio, refitting helicopter for mission work

COSHOCTON, Ohio- MMS Aviation on the Richard Downing Airport campus is currently renovating a donated helicopter for mission work.

Mercy Air has received a donated Airbus AS350B2 helicopter from Air Methods to support humanitarian relief flight operations in southern Africa. The helicopter will enable Mercy Air to expand medical, agricultural, and educational programs and disaster response in the region.

According to Matthias Reuter, Director of Mercy Air Helicopter Operations, the donated helicopter will significantly benefit at-risk populations.

“Air Methods generous gift will dramatically expand our relief flight operations into unserved rural areas in southern Africa. The helicopter will enable us to efficiently reach tens of thousands of individuals annually who would otherwise lack access to basic medical care or vital supplies during natural and manmade disasters," he said in a release. "Additionally, the helicopter will support our flight training program for pilots joining our team without interrupting essential relief flights.”

Mercy Air’s private flight operations now includes three Airbus AS350B2 helicopters and two airplanes, a Quest Kodiak and a Cessna 310. They enable humanitarian service in a region where great distances, limited infrastructure and difficult topography make access infeasible via other modes of transportation. By reducing travel time from days by land to mere hours by air increases the effectiveness, economy, and impact of relief efforts and maximizes the delivery of care.

“We routinely serve people groups who cannot be efficiently reached by ground transportation. Travel in many service areas requires many long hours to days by four-wheel drive vehicles or canoe in severe conditions," Reuter said in the release. "Helicopters can reduce travel time to mere minutes. This significantly increases service time for volunteer teams and the capacity to transport essential materials such as medicine, agricultural supplies and emergency rations. Helicopters are the most effective means to deliver volunteer medical teams, educators and agronomists and their supplies to people who live beyond the end of the road.”

The donated helicopter has been repositioned to MMS Aviation to be transitioned from medevac to utility configuration. This represents the third such collaboration between Mercy Air and MMS Aviation, a peer non-profit mission aviation organization that provides Mercy Air hangar space and assistance by highly experienced aircraft mechanics without charge.

Reconfiguration will include removal of the aeromedical care kit, additional seating to accommodate a pilot and up to six passengers, an external load cargo hook, new communications and navigation equipment and various upgrades that will enhance performance and safety for the challenging flight environment in remote Africa. Following the projected several-month maintenance and flight-training program, the helicopter will be transported to southern Africa to initiate operations.

“Partnerships, large and small, are essential to support our relief flight operations. We are eternally grateful that Air Methods has chosen to partner with us in the ongoing work. Their gift will catalyze service to countless people in need for decades to come,” Reuter said in the release. 

GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colorado, December 3, 2020 – Air Methods, a leading air medical service in the U.S., announced today that it has donated an Airbus AS350B2 helicopter to southern Africa-based humanitarian relief organization, Mercy Air Africa. The nonprofit was founded in 1991 to provide private flight support for nongovernmental organizations serving in the southern region of Africa. Matthias Reuter, Director of Mercy Air Helicopter Operations, visited Air Methods headquarters in Denver, Colorado last month to finalize and discuss the donation with Air Methods EVP of Operations Leo Morrissette.

“Private flight operations increase the effectiveness, economy, and impact of relief efforts,” said Morrissette. “Many service locations require long hours or days of travel by four-wheel drive vehicles or canoes in inhospitable conditions. Helicopters reduce travel time to mere minutes, significantly increasing service time for volunteers and transport capacity for essential supplies such as medicine, agricultural supplies, and emergency rations.”

Mercy Air supports various relief programs including healthcare, education, agriculture, and disaster response. These efforts provide indigenous populations the skills and resources needed to lead more independent, productive lives rather than perpetuate dependence on international aid.

Using lightweight high-performance airplanes and helicopters, Mercy Air delivers assistance in a challenging operational environment where great distances, limited infrastructure, and difficult topography make access to rural populations inefficient or infeasible via other means of transport.

The principal region of operation includes the African nations of: Eswatini, Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Zambia, Angola, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Service into Kenya, Tanzania, and even Madagascar can be coordinated on an ad hoc basis. Volunteer teams across the region include pilots, mechanics, flight-assistants, physicians, nurses, dentists, agronomists, educators, tradesmen, business executives, and administrators, who use their skills to help those in need.

Air Methods AS350B2

The Airbus AS350B2 helicopter donated by Air Methods will undergo extensive upgrades, including avionics and airframe modifications to enhance performance, passenger capacity, sling load, and safety. The work will be performed over several months by Mercy Air associates at MMS Aviation, a peer nonprofit mission aviation maintenance service and training organization located at Coshocton Richard Downing Airport (I40) in Coshocton, Ohio. Marking the third such collaboration, MMS Aviation provides hangar space, equipment, and technical assistance to Mercy Air free of charge.

After reconfiguration, the helicopter will be transported to southern Africa for immediate service in humanitarian aid programs, relief flight operations, and disaster response in areas targeted for expanded service with partner organizations.

“It is with the help of companies like Air Methods and others in the helicopter industry that Mercy Air is able to remain steadfast in our commitment to supporting isolated communities in southern Africa,” said Reuter. “We could not be more grateful for the generous donation of this aircraft to our fleet.”

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