Airbus Helicopters Inc. announced that California Shock Trauma and Rescue (CALSTAR) has ordered five H135 air medical helicopters. CALSTAR is the first U.S. customer for this significantly improved and updated variant of the most popular twin-engine helicopter chosen by air medical transport service operators.
The order announcement was made Monday in a ceremony at the Airbus Helicopters Inc. booth on the opening day of the Air Medical Transport Conference in Long Beach. CALSTAR, based in Sacramento, Calif. is one of the nation’s leading air medical service providers and a long-time operator of Airbus helicopters.
“We are honored that an outstanding air medical transport and emergency medical services provider such as CALSTAR continues to place their trust in Airbus Helicopters aircraft and services,” said Chris Emerson, President of Airbus Helicopters Inc. and Head of the North America Region. “CALSTAR is one of the many air medical providers that continue to choose Airbus Helicopters aircraft and contribute to our success as the market leader in this vital segment of the industry.”
CALSTAR selected the H135 (formerly EC135 P3) following a fly off with competing models that included tests in late summer heat and high altitude. CALSTAR flies many of its critical patient transports in the Sierra Nevada range and nearby foothills.
“CALSTAR followed a very rigorous review process that included a detailed analysis by third party expert Conklin & de Decker Associates and hands-on trials by our pilots and flight nurses,” said Lynn D. Malmstrom, President and CEO. “The H135 became the clear leader after we were able to test its capabilities in our unique high/hot operating environment.”
The new H135s will replace CALSTAR’s remaining four legacy BO105LS helicopters. The first H135s are expected to go into service in the spring of 2016. This aircraft acquisition represents the conclusion of a fleet modernization plan launched in 2012.
The H135 recently received Federal Aviation Administration type certification for operation in the U.S. The H135 is the industry reference for light twin-engine helicopters due to its performance, safety features, operating efficiency and cabin flexibility. CALSTAR currently operates eight EC135s, the previous version, that it ordered in 2012.
Equipped with Pratt & Whitney PW206B3 turbine engines and a new, larger main rotor, the H135 provides 440 pounds of greater payload capacity in hot-and-high operating conditions. It also has improved performance and payload at lower altitudes.
The H135 has several new or improved safety features. Its modern glass cockpit includes the Garmin GTN 750 fully integrated navigation, communication and GPS avionics system. This system allows enhanced operation under instrument flight rules (IFR), improving safety margins at night, or in hazardous weather and terrain. The H135 also has excellent one-engine inoperative (OEI) performance. The helicopter is equipped with Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC), fire detectors, transmission chip detectors with quick-disconnect plugs, and a crash-resistant fuel system.
More than 1,200 versions of the H135/EC135 family are in operation globally and have accumulated a total of more than three million flight hours. The model is a worldwide favorite of air medical transport services. Previous versions can be fully retrofitted to bring them up to the technical level of the H135.