Helicopters

Helicopters

LifeFlight of Maine owns four A109 series light twin-engine Leonardo AgustaWestland helicopters. Two 109E models were purchased new in January 2005, and two of the latest generation SP models were purchased in 2020, with a third SP purchase planned to complete the fleet. Click here for more information about our Complete the Fleet campaign.

LifeFlight has operated in the Leonardo helicopters since its inception. The A109 series are ideal for Maine. Chosen for their speed, they are some of the fastest light twin-engine helicopters in the world. The SP helicopters travel at an average speed of 165 mph, making the trip from Bangor to Caribou in less than an hour. With two hours of fuel plus reserves, helicopters are ideal for point-to-point transport of 175 miles. As speed is tied to a standard engine fuel burn, the A109’s effectively increase LifeFlight’s geographic coverage by 25% versus other airframes, and due to Maine’s road characteristics, a single helicopter equates to the equivalent coverage of six to nine fully staffed ground ambulances.

Click here to meet our helicopter pilots and aviation maintenance technicians.

LifeFlight has made the choice from the beginning to utilize fully instrument-capable aircraft. IFR (instrument flight rules) flight is the safest, most reliable aviation operation, although currently, only approximately 10% of air medical helicopters in the U.S. utilize IFR due to increased costs of acquisition, pilot training, and operations. The A109 series has long been among the most instrument flight-capable light helicopters in the market incorporating a navigation system driven by a multi-axis autopilot. With the helicopters’ advanced avionics and performance capabilities, LifeFlight can operate in full IFR, which means pilots can safely fly in a wider range of visibility conditions, decreasing the number of times the helicopter is grounded due to weather. The newest generation, state-of-the-art, SP models incorporate a four-axis autopilot able to fully access the precision, nextgen, navigation improving safety and reliability. 

LifeFlight operates three helicopter bases: Bangor (Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center and Bangor International Airport), Lewiston (Central Maine Medical Center and Auburn-Lewiston Airport), and Sanford (Sanford Seacoast Regional Airport).

The helicopters are configured to accommodate one pilot, two medical crew, and one patient, and are equipped as mobile ICUs including: 

  • Advanced multi-mode ventilators
  • Invasive cardiac and neuro-monitoring
  • Multiple infusion pumps
  • Laboratory
  • Ultrasound
  • An ICU pharmacy
  • Blood and plasma products
  • Advanced resuscitation and trauma care

The aircraft can be reconfigured with specialized newborn transport isolettes, intra-aortic and ventricular assist devices, tandem hearts, and ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) for patients needing cardiopulmonary bypass. 

Each helicopter transports approximately 550-600 patients each year. 

LifeFlight’s helicopters are operated and maintained by LifeFlight Aviation Services, a wholly-owned subsidiary of LifeFlight. LifeFlight Aviation Services is an approved FAA Part 135 Air Carrier Certificate 5L0A257Q and employs our full-time professional pilots and aviation maintenance technicians.