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November 10, 2017 - 4:56pm

Mercy Flight to get three new helicopters to replace aging fleet, thanks to $23 million loan

posted by Billie Owens in batavia, Mercy Flight, M&T Bank, business.

Photo courtesy of Sam Kuminecz.

Press release:

It is with great enthusiasm that Mercy Flight Inc., which provides service in Genesee County, announces a major EMS helicopter acquisition: three new 2017 Bell 429 helicopters.

This significant fleet upgrade will help sustain Mercy Flight’s commitment to bringing expert and unparalleled medical care with rapid response for many years to come.

In late October, Mercy Flight signed a Purchase Agreement and placed a deposit with Bell Helicopter for the new helicopters. This opportunity was made possible through a combined $23 million long-term lending effort from the USDA Rural Development Department and M&T Bank. These joint 20-year loans from the USDA and M&T Bank create an affordable option that will allow Mercy Flight to replace its four aging 1980s model BK-117 helicopters.

The helicopters are slated to be completed and delivered ready for EMS operations in the late Spring of 2018.

“These Bell 429s will represent a significant step in our goal to remain Western New York’s independent, nonprofit provider of emergency air medical services for many years to come,” said Mercy Flight’s Founding President and CEO Douglas Baker.

“Our current BK-117 helicopters have been pillars of our operation for a number of years, but this creative financing opportunity provided to us by the USDA’s Rural Development team and M&T Bank will allow us to retire these aging aircraft and replace them with more reliable, modern equipment.”

“USDA Rural Development’s Community Facilities program is designed to assist nonprofit organizations just like Mercy Flight – with equipment like this,” said USDA Rural Development Loan Technician Sandra Snyder. “This funding builds on the USDA’s continued investment and commitment in rural communities throughout New York.

"While the added features, expanded service range, increased speed and state of the art capabilities of these new and dependable airframes are impressive, we at Rural Development in NY also believe the pilots, emergency technicians, dispatchers and ground teams are equally impressive.”

In 2010, Mercy Flight similarly collaborated with the USDA and M&T Bank for joint loans for the organization’s first Bell 429 helicopter. This aircraft has since proven its merit, as has Bell Helicopter’s customer service. Mercy Flight is looking forward to performing its lifesaving, nonprofit mission while flying exclusively Bell 429 helicopters.

“Mercy Flight’s decision to upgrade their existing fleet to all Bell 429’s reflects both the tremendous capabilities of the aircraft and the unrivaled support Bell Helicopter is known for,” said Ron Orndoff, Bell Helicopter Regional Sales Manager. “Their fleet of four aircraft will bring the total to 21 Bell 429’s operating in the Northeast U.S., representing every mission segment.”

Mercy Flight serves the Western New York Community and beyond with its fleet of five helicopters, twenty ambulances, six paramedic fly cars, and exclusive use of a dedicated Learjet to transport patients in need nationwide. Since 1981, Mercy Flight has safely completed more than 27,000 patient missions, including scene emergencies and inter-hospital transfers.

ABOUT MERCY FLIGHT

Mercy Flight Inc., d/b/a Mercy Flight of Western New York and Mercy EMS, is an independent nonprofit provider of medical transport services. It began in 1981 as the first medically-dedicated air ambulance service in New York State. Today, the charitable organization operates four helicopter bases staffed by pilots, flight paramedics and flight nurses in Buffalo (headquarters), Olean, Springville and Batavia.

Long distance air transports are conducted using a Learjet 31 and the same critical care medical teams that staff the helicopters. Flight physicians also join the team as needed based on the condition of the patient.

Mercy Flight’s ground ambulance division, Mercy EMS, provides service for Genesee County, Niagara County, and the Town of Concord and Village of Springville.

Together, the organization’s employees, now over 200 strong, support the mission of providing unparalleled, critical emergency care, in the air and on the ground, “WHEN MINUTES MATTER."

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