Shreveport, Louisiana-based Metro Aviation has taken delivery of the first EC145e produced at Airbus Helicopters' US assembly plant in Columbus, Mississippi. The delivery is part of an order for 25 aircraft that Metro placed in 2018, and the remaining aircraft will all be delivered out of Columbus.
Metro operates air medical helicopter services for hospitals and customises new helicopters for a variety of missions. It was the first customer in the world to place an order for the EC145e when Airbus Helicopters launched the model in 2015. The twin-engine EC145e was initially introduced for use with VFR.
“We are pleased to continue a long-term relationship with Airbus, providing aircraft that meet a wide range of customer needs, and we are especially happy with the EC145e,” states president and CEO Mike Stanberry. “The IFR package we received earlier this year provides an upgrade to an extremely dependable and reliable global airframe, making it more cost-effective with a higher payload.”
Airbus Helicopters head of North America Romain Trapp adds: “We are pleased to deliver this EC145e, now the third Airbus model to be produced in the US by workers in our Columbus plant. “For more than a decade, our workforce has been producing high-quality aircraft for both the US Army and more recently our commercial operators in North America.”
Metro developed its own FAA-approved avionics package in partnership with Genesys Aerosystems, as well as air medical and utility configurations. The Metro/Genesys upgrades include supplemental type certificates for a Single Pilot/Dual Pilot IFR system, a VFR electronic flight instrument system (EFIS), and autopilot and stability augmentation system upgrades.
Airbus Helicopters opened its Columbus plant in 2004, where it began production of UH-72A Lakota helicopters for the US Army in 2007. More than 440 Lakotas, also a derivative of the EC145, have been delivered to date. Airbus also performs final assembly of its top-selling H125 commercial helicopter in Columbus, as well as the bulk of its helicopter completions for the region.