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Michigan Medicine’s Survival Flight Adds New Jet to Improve Patient Care

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Michigan Medicine’s Survival Flight has added a new Bombardier Learjet 75 fixed-wing aircraft to its existing fleet of three rotor-wing aircrafts to serve even more critically injured patients and improve organ procurement services.

The Survival Flight team members specifically designed the jet’s interior for the acutely ill and injured patient populations they treat.

“There is nothing our nurses that designed this interior haven’t thought of,” says Denise Landis, clinical director of Survival Flight.

The fixed-wing aircraft is mainly used for pre-planned trips, including organ procurement and patients that need to be picked up from distances the rotor-wing aircrafts cannot reach.

“This jet will allow our organ procurement teams to fly as far as Las Vegas and back to Ann Arbor within a 12-hour shift,” Landis says. “Before, we would not be able to make it to such a far distance in one shift.”

The Learjet 75 will replace the program’s Cessna Citation Encore jet, which was acquired in 2001.

“Our former aircraft was a corporate interior and while it served us well for the past 17 years, we are constantly looking toward the future and improving our ability to care for patients,” Landis says. “This jet has been in process for over a year. It started out with a committee within the university with all of the stakeholders that fly in the aircraft coming together and deciding what is it we need to better serve our patients.”

Improved features of the jet include:

  • a wider door access point to the interior patient cabin to accommodate larger patient beds, isolettes and patients
  • a wider interior patient care cabin with the ability to care for the wide variety of patient populations Survival Flight encounters, including neonatal through geriatrics patients, complex ICU patients, ECMO patients, etc.
  • ability to carry liquid oxygen and heavy equipment on board, as well as TransMedics Organ Care System for organ procurement, Impella devices and balloon pumps
  • mounting system in the interior patient care cabin for IV bags and other medical needs
  • monitor in the interior patient cabin that displays time to destination, ground speed, flying altitude and cabin altitude, which is needed for some of the medical devices
  • ability to carry two organ procurement teams in one flight because of additional seating
  • shorter take-off and faster climb rate to a top speed of 464 knots (534 mph), with the ability to fly over poor weather conditions at a maximum operating altitude of 51,000 feet
  • Garmin G5000 touchscreen avionics suite in the cockpit, dual main tires, two lead-acid batteries for electrical power and increased aerodynamic efficiency

“The committee really looked at all of our equipment, weighed each piece and made space for it,” Landis says. “It’s a very mobile interior because we can pull things out and put them back in based on what we need for that particular patient or trip.”

The jet will accompany Survival Flight’s existing three twin-engine Eurocopter EC-155B1 helicopters, with aviation services for all aircraft provided by Metro Aviation.

“The beauty is we have options to do what’s best for our patients and our staff,” Landis says. “We’re excited to be able to go further, faster and be very dedicated to the diverse patients we transport.”

About Michigan Medicine’s Survival Flight

The Survival Flight team is committed to providing safe and rapid access to tertiary care using expertise generated from and proven through evidence-based research and best practices. The team is currently made up of 10 helicopter pilots, eight jet pilots, seven mechanics, 10 communication specialists, 24 flight nurses, an aviation manager, administrative specialist, a clinical supervisor, a clinical manager, as well as faculty from the Michigan Medicine Department of Emergency Medicine. To learn more about Survival Flight, please visit its website.

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