Mercy’s medical helicopters can now fly more often and in more varied weather conditions, thanks to their own private airspace navigation system developed by Mercy Life Line. This gives Life Line helicopters the ability to respond to requests for transport by giving their pilots the ability land at select hospitals in weather that most air medical programs would not be able to fly in.
The Federal Aviation Administration approved the final phase of a low-level Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) plan, which connects eight regional hospitals and Life Line base locations in Missouri and Arkansas and allows the Mercy Life Line helicopters to fly in a wider range of weather conditions.
Mercy is the first health system in the region to develop a fully integrated, private, low-level hospital helipad GPS route structure. Life Line has been flying IFR since 2013 but the missing link has been connecting the routes into an integrated system. This is the culmination of a 3 year project between the FAA, Metro Aviation, Hickock and Associates and Mercy Hospital. The engineers mapped out the entire region using GPS technology and created a series of routes for the pilots to follow, pre-designated flight patterns that can be navigated using instruments only, similar to the routes commercial airliners fly in and out of large airports in almost all weather conditions.
Mercy Life Line has been accident free since our inception in 1984 and this technology further strengthens our commitment to safety, for our patients and our crews. Our dedicated pilots have trained tirelessly to make our program the safest in the area. These approaches will be an additional tool in our safety program. Life Line operates four Airbus H135 single pilot IFR helicopters in the region.