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kodiakallstar 01-24-2009 08:08 AM

Air Ambulance
I'm just wondering about fixed wing Air Ambulance as a possible career avenue. Does anyone have any experience in this sector who could inform on QOL, Pay, Schedules, etc. Also if you know of any in the chicago or milwaukee area that would be appreciated as well.

clearandcold 01-24-2009 10:54 PM

From what I've seen of it is seems like the company that has a particular contract changes every 3-5 years so you are always having to re-apply for your job at the new company. Also you will be paid a little less and have fewer benefits each time around.

FlyJSH 01-25-2009 09:35 AM

Flew air ambulance for seven years. Who you work for makes all the difference. Typical schedules are 7/7 (seven days on seven days off). I worked 20/10 and have seen 5/5. Most are 12 hours on duty, 12 off. Unless the airframe requires two, most work is single pilot. Minimums are usually relatively high for single pilot (ours were 2000TT 500ME and prior 135 preferred).

Pay starts in the $40-60k range depending on equipment, location, benefits, etc. Don't expect huge increases with longevity.

I worked for a company that contracted with a children's hospital: most patients were neonatal kids. I was on call 24 hours (it was legal and accepted by the FAA -- pm for details), but 90% of the trips started between 6pm and midnight. Typical trips were out and back and took about 5 hours of duty. Back to back trips happened about a quarter of the time. As a result, I became a vampire: asleep before dawn and rose mid afternoon. (I still prefer working nights and bid standups whenever possible) Of the 20 days I was on, I flew about 10, but that varied with the season.

For career growth, I give it mixed reviews.
On the plus side, you are flying respected equipment (King Airs, 421s), single pilot, often to difficult airports, with crappy approaches, and in all weather.
The down side: often not much flight time (200 hours per year is fairly common), single pilot, and you won't meet a zillion other pilots who will be future references.

No one I knew ever "chose" the air ambulance path. It kinda chose them. They found a niche, they liked it, and stayed. Or, they did a couple years and moved on.

If you work for a good company, like where you are based, and generally aren't looking to be an airline pilot, absolutely go for it!

If you are biding your time until the economy turns, do it. And save a few grand for when you take the $20k regional FO job.

PM if you want more info

FL450 01-25-2009 04:30 PM

Working in air ambulance has its ups and downs however to make it a career is a bit sketchy. Like the previous post mentioned it is feast or famine, there are times when you'll have three or four flights back to back and times when you'll go 4 days with out a transfer. Fixed wing air ambulance is sort of at a disadvantage since the helicopters are the bread and butter of air ems.

Most company's including the one I work for do 12 hour shifts and you flip flop every other work stint between day and night shift. Unlike the previous post above the company I work for does 12 days on 6 days off. Kodia I notice that you posted in the regional section a couple of times and are looking to go the airline route perhaps? Fixed wing air ems can be fun and definately rewarding however time DOES NOT come quickly if this is a time builder for you. There are a few companies that do have gov't contracts to transport via fixed wing like Eagle Med out of kansas but besides that its back to feast of famine.

Over all it is a fun career and the experience is that like no other however. you reach a plateau after a while in pay and equipment, this is the downside. It seems to me that this may be a temporary job for a few years until the economy turns around for you and if this is the case then by all means I say go for it. On the contrary if this is going to be the support system for you and your family for years to come I would weigh my options carefully.

Look into Eagle Med(Ballard aviation, Kansas), Eagle air med(Utah), Life Flight, midwest lifeteam, Mountain LifeFlight(cali) just to name a few. On the bright side all the air EMS services that I know of are part 135 which gives you an advantage if you want to stay in the corporate world or even transition to the 121 world.

Good luck my friend and PM me if you have any further questions

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