CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Corewell Health’s Aero Med helicopter EMS service will soon have a new helicopter answering calls for help.

Final approval from the Federal Aviation Administration is expected in the new few weeks for the new chopper, which replaces one first launched in the 1990s.

Unlike most custom medical helicopters, Aero Med’s new-to-them helicopter has more room for patient care.

The 2008 Sikorski was a corporate owned helicopter, shuttling some big city company big wigs from meeting to meeting in its past life. Now, it’s taken on a new role as a flying ambulance.

Patrick Morell will be one of the pilots behind the controls.

“This model, compared to other EMS units around the country, is a step above,” said Morell. 

Unlike most specially-designed EMS helicopters, the Sikorski provides more room for patients and the flight crew, along with several improvements up front in the cockpit.

With a speed range between 180 and 300 mph, the new helicopter also burns less fuel.

“Dual engine capability. We have an autopilot system here where once I’m up in the air, I can couple us to the autopilot. It’s like having a copilot that flies great,“ said Morell.

The $6.5 million aircraft, the fifth Sikorski to serve the fleet, will become Aero Med’s primary chopper in Grand Rapids. The back up is a similar 2008 Sikorski.

The service’s first flight was way back in 1987.

“Since then, we’ve done well over 30,000 patient transports, from anywhere in the Upper Peninsula to right here in the Grand Rapids area,” said Aero Med and North Flight Aero Med Director Tiffany Obetts.

As for Aero Med’s future, Obetts said they’re always watching population trends and other factors to determine if a third chopper should be added to the fleet. There are no plans right now for adding service right now.

“We would be happy to continue to expand our services to the community,” said Obetts.