Omniflight Helicopters Inc., a large national provider of air medical services, has signed an agreement with FlightSafety International to train in its new level-7 AS350 simulator located in Tucson, Ariz. Omniflight’s instructors will lead and conduct the training of nearly 200 pilots nationwide beginning in 2010. This includes newly hired as well as current pilots and will focus on regulatory, mission-specific, and scenario-based training.
Conducting training in the simulator will allow Omniflight to provide instruction on certain specific maneuvers that can be performed more effectively in the device. In particular, Omniflight expects to see increased effectiveness in training for encounters associated with inadvertent instrument meteorological conditions (IIMC) and a wide range of emergency procedures.
“The FlightSafety training program will allow us to capitalize on the proven benefits of simulator training processes, which include enhanced safety and heightened performance,” said Eric Pangburn, chief rotor-wing pilot at Omniflight, who will head the program for the company. He added, “The training will offer a decreased chance of physical risk and improved cost efficiencies since it will be conducted on the ground, which ultimately results in increased aircraft availability. It also affords us more flexibility and enhanced productivity in the type of training options it is capable of performing.”
The availability of a high-level simulator for single-engine helicopters such as the AS350 has come at the right time. Air medical operators are facing the worst accident rate in the industry’s history, and the ability to provide comprehensive and cost-effective training is needed.