LifeFlight is creating new low-altitude flight routes to transport patients quicker

LifeFlight of Maine, the state’s only air medical and critical care transport organization, is partnering with the Federal Aviation Administration to create new low-level helicopter flight routes that will help first responders reach and transport patients in need faster and safely, even in dangerous weather .

Once complete, the new routes will allow LifeFlight to fly safely and reliably in poor weather to transport more critically injured and ill patients than before. The FAA will also replicate the project, helping pilots throughout the US reach more patients.

Currently, there has only been one set of flight paths for pilots to follow, but they can fly at two different altitude ranges: below the clouds and in or above the clouds.This project creates entirely new flight paths that, with the advanced technology LifeFlight has, is safe and efficient when pilots have to fly at low altitudes in poor weather.

When LifeFlight was first founded, pilots flew below the clouds because the organization didn’t have the technology necessary to fly in or above the clouds like commercial airplanes do, as that requires air traffic control and navigation technology that helps pilots stay safe when they can ‘t see the ground, according to Thomas Judge, LifeFlight’s founder and executive director.

Slowly, LifeFlight added that technology to 39 places throughout Maine within two miles of a hospital. This allowed helicopters and airplanes to fly at higher altitudes above hazardous weather and potential obstacles, keeping patients safer.

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