The new American Eurocopter 155 B1 helicopters are bigger, faster and stronger than the current models employed in U-M’s program. It’s the first time that model of chopper has been retrofitted for use in a hospital program.
U-M has used three Bell 430 helicopters since 1998.
The Eurocopter can carry about 1,500 more pounds than the Bell 430, and has a 50 percent increase of cubic feet in cabin volume. The new chopper can also go about 90 miles further than the previous range of 406 miles.
Crew capacity will be expanded from four pilots and nurses to six. The choppers will have the ability to carry two patients if necessary, which was a rare occurrence.
Compared with the new models, the Bell 430 helicopters feel much smaller inside - especially in turns of headroom - and only give nurses access to the patient from one side, as the gurney is placed on the left side of the aircraft right next to the door.