Alyssa Thurlow WABI
LifeFlight of Maine upgrades fleet, plans virtual event to unveil aviation and clinical features
April 1, 2021
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  • BANGOR, Maine (WABI) – Getting emergency care to critically ill patients in Maine. That has been the goal of LifeFlight of Maine since 1998.

    With the recent purchase of two new state-of-the-art helicopters, LifeFlight can increase what they do by nearly 8%.

    “The technology in this aircraft would be just like a major jet airliner. It just can’t fly quite as high, quite as far, and quite as fast,” explained Tom Judge, Executive Director of LifeFlight of Maine.

    That new technology is helping LifeFlight of Maine transport critically ill and injured patients.

    “It’s a big step forward for LifeFlight,” he said,

    They recently welcomed the addition two new helicopters.

    The new aircraft (Agusta 109 SP) have a greater weight carrying capacity, more workspace for patient care, and can fly faster than their older aircraft.

    “This is among the fastest aircraft on the civilian market, said Judge.

    This aircraft, based in Bangor, has been in service since November.

    More than 6,000 donors made it possible.

    Judge says with the upgrade, they can increase what they do by about 8%. That translates to about 160 to 180 patients.

    “Literally everything we would find in an ICU is miniaturized in the aircraft here. About 100,000 pieces come together to conduct a safe flight,” he said.

    The new models help achieve a new level of safety and reliability when out on calls.

    That’s made possible thanks to state-of-the-art aviation technology.

    “We’ve started a new project, a national demonstration project with the FAA, first in the nation, low level precision flight routes,” he said. “The first one from Bangor to Bar Harbor, and then we’re getting down to Bar Harbor, and eventually a network that stretches all across the state. Maine has some of the most complex aviation weather outside of the state of Alaska. It has the most complex aviation weather in the country. Having these kinds of aircraft with these performance capabilities is essential for the people of Maine.”

    More than 30,000 patients have been safely transported by ground or air by LifeFlight of Maine.

    Many were given a second chance at life.

    “You go off the college. You return to your grandparents. You return to your children who just would have run out of time and run out of options,” said Judge.

    LifeFlight currently has three helicopters in service and a backup helicopter.

    They’re working on a fundraising campaign to secure funds to purchase the next needed helicopter.

    “We work hard to make sure that everyone is working and we’re working in concert with everyone because then patients have the best outcome possible,” he said.

    LifeFlight of Maine is planning a virtual celebration to unveil the new aircraft to the public.

    The event starts at 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 15th.