Burley said HealthNet pilots have to undergo specialized in-flight training that simulates poor weather conditions. Pilots use "foggles," which are goggle-type glasses that imitate clouds and fog and learn how to navigate the aircraft without any ground references.
"Using IFR operations is another example of how the organization leverages technology to serve our patients," Burley said.
HealthNet is a not-for-profit critical care transport system operated by Charleston Area Medical Center, Cabell Huntington Hospital and WVU Healthcare. All three hospitals provide the financial backing for HealthNet's helicopters.
"HealthNet is a joint venture between the state's three largest hospitals," said David Ramsey, president and CEO of CAMC. "We all support HealthNet and the services they provide. IFR operations will definitely better HealthNet, and I'm excited about this new flight operation model."
Burley said HealthNet took delivery of four brand new EC-130 air medical helicopters in 2013. Two more are on order and are expected to be added to the fleet in the first quarter of 2014.
"When delivered, the two new aircrafts will replace older aircraft now in service at our bases in Ripley and Buckhannon," Burley said. "When the new aircraft is placed into service, the average age of our helicopter fleet will be 2.5 years. The hospitals are such strong supporters of what we do and they are fully invested in our fleet and our mission."
HealthNet has eight bases scattered across the area, including a base in Kentucky and one in Ohio. Formed in 1986, HealthNet has transported more than 70,000 patients.
Contact writer John Gibb at john.g...@dailymail.com or 304-348-1796.