Our 2011 Bell 429 was the first brand-new helicopter acquired by Mercy Flight. The 6.5 million dollar purchase was made possible with the support of our community and special, long-term financing from the United States Department of Agriculture - Rural Development and M&T Bank.
At a cruising speed of 180, the Bell 429 offers a longer range and increased patient space over previous Mercy Flight aircraft. It has a faster start up and shut down, and offers both side and rear patient loading.
Our 2011 fleet upgrade also included a previously-owned BK 117. The BK's offer reduced response times, can carry additional crew members, and allows greater patient access during flight.
Mercy Flight 7 was the first BK put into service, followed by Mercy Flight 8, which is predominately housed at our Olean base.
In 2013 and again in 2014, two more BK117's (Mercy Flight 4 and 9) were purchased and put into service. Increasing our fleet to five ships total; with three being in-service at all times and two for back up, and to rotate in during maintenance cycles.
Mercy Flight's long relationship with the Erie County Sheriff's Dept allows us to team up in order to provide additional resources should the need arise. This helicopter can be quickly supplemented by Mercy Flight medical personnel and equipment to enhance our medical transport capabilities.
Transports beyond Cleveland, Pittsburgh or Syracuse may be accomplished through the use of fixed wing aircraft. Our leased Lear Jet 31 is fully equipped and able to fly up to 51,000 feet, with a top speed of 525 mph. The jet has a range of 1400 nautical miles on one tank of fuel. We coordinate ground ambulance transportation at both ends and staff the plane with our medical flight teams and equipment.