“Aviation Partners Blended Winglets give us the ability to provide a high level of
service at a much lower cost,” says AirMed Founder & CEO Jeff Tolbert. “The ability to fly 30 minutes farther, or 18 kts faster, make our 800SPs much more valuable and capable aircraft for international patient transport. For us, Blended Winglet Technology is an absolute godsend.”
AirMed International, the only air ambulance company in North America to use HAWKER 800s exclusively for medical transport, has handled over 9000 missions in more than 150 countries and 6 continents since 1982. The Birmingham, AL-based group operates a fleet of Raytheon Hawker 800s at utilization rates approaching 1800 hours per aircraft per year. Blended Winglets, to be installed on all Hawkers between November and January, will make the Hawkers much more capable and cost-effective long haul air ambulances.
“Additional cruise speed, made possible with Blended Winglets, will allow us to fly longer flights without augmenting flight crews,” says Tolbert. “Prior to installing winglets, we did a leg from Beijing to Riyadh which was 11 minutes over our 10 hour, 2 crew, limitation. This not only delayed the flight but it cost an extra $6000. to reposition a third crewmember to Beijing. With Blended Winglets, and faster cruise speeds, we would have completely avoided this delay and added expense.”
Range, in pre-Blended Winglet days, had often been an issue on longer AirMed Hawker 800 flights. “Four or five times a year, due to headwinds, we had to fly from San Jose to Hawaii via Anchorage, which added 4 hours to flight times. With our 800SPs, we’ll be able to operate safely from the West Coast to Hawaii against 50 – 60 kt headwinds.”
A recent AirMed flight from Hawaii to Christchurch, New Zealand was originally scheduled with one fuel stop at American Samoa. “However, due to winds, we were 10 minutes shy of legal fuel reserves and had to make a second fuel stop which added 1 hour and about $3000. to the cost of the trip. The 180 nm, 30 minute, range advantage with Blended Winglets would have allowed us to complete the trip easily with just the one planned fuel stop.”
Blended Winglet Advantage
With Blended Winglets, AirMed will be able to operate longer-range from high/hot airfields, including Toluca, Mexico, during summer months. A standard Hawker 800 will fly from Toluca to Birmingham AL during summer whereas a Blended Winglet Equipped 800SP will fly from Toluca all the way to Rochester, MN. Tolbert is also looking forward to performance advantages, over the Atlantic, 12-months a year. “With Blended Winglets we’ll climb directly to 39,000 feet and fly at higher cruise speeds. Previously, we were able to climb direct to 37,000 feet but it had been a struggle.”
Performance benefits also include enhanced stability at slower speeds. “We believe that Blended Winglets will help in terms of landing distances and brake life on our 800SPs,” says Tolbert who also believes the high-tech image of Aviation Partners Blended Winglet will play a marketing role. “We want to be thought of as the ‘can-do cutting edge air medical provider’ and Blended Winglets help with that image.”
In terms of fuel savings alone, approximately 7% at altitude, AirMed calculates the Blended Winglet payback at less than 30 months. Blended Winglet benefits, however, extend well beyond just fuel savings.
“Without Blended Winglets we’d be operating with a generally higher cost structure, with additional fuel stops and the expense of ferrying additional crews around the world,” says Tolbert. “Or, we’d be faced with the considerable investment in changing aircraft types. In either case, we’d have to pass these higher costs on to our customers. The 800SP, however, is a perfect aircraft for long-range patient transport and Blended Winglets will enable us to provide a higher level of service at a lower cost.”
“This is the moment Hawker 800 & 800XP operators have been waiting for,” says Aviation Partners Founder & CEO Joe Clark. “For a workhorse aircraft like the Hawker, Blended Winglets make a huge difference.”
*Patent# 5348253Click to download PDF