East Texas Medical Center introduced two new Air 1 helicopters on Monday. The new transport helicopters will be stationed in Tyler and at Titus Regional Medical Center in Mount Pleasant. A third helicopter already in the fleet is located in Athens.

The New and updated $9 million ETMC helicopters will advance response time, offer more room for transporting patients, and includes the latest technology in treating emergency care, according to Jim Speier, operations coordinator.

Speier said the biggest advantage to the new air transport choppers is safety.

“Our goal is to safely complete each mission without having any issues. The new helicopters have updated safety features, including a terrain avoidance warning system that gives an audible voice alert message if an obstacle appears along the flight path. They also have a traffic collision avoidance system to warn the pilot of another aircraft in close proximity.”

Other features include live weather radar, which allows the crew to monitor area weather systems; an OuterLink satellite tracking system, which allows the communications center to track the entire flight; a black box recorder system, which stores critical data regarding each flight; night vision goggles; an automatic flight control system to assist the pilot; an improved environmental system, which allows for better patient comfort and a wire strike protection system that cuts power lines in the event of a wire strike.

The ETMC Air 1 has been in operation since 1985 and covers a 150-mile radius around each helicopter base, covering 38 counties in East Texas transporting more than 1,500 patients per year.