Emergency-medical-service specialist Air Methods is discussing establishing franchise operations in Israel and Turkey.

The US company already has a franchise partner, Flamingo Unimed Air Taxi Aereo, in Brazil. Air Methods is not predicting when the Israeli and Turkish medical-transport programmes could get under way, but says that discussions are making "good progress".

The Brazilian franchise has been operational since January 1996 and has just introduced its sixth aircraft, a Bell 206L-3 helicopter purchased from Air Methods. Unimed now operates three 206s, one Sikorsky S-76 and two fixed-wing aircraft, including a Pilatus PC-12.

Denver, Colorado-based Air Methods says that it sold the 206 to Unimed for $695,000 after replacing it with a new Bell 407. The company is replacing 206s with 407s in many of 21 medical-transport programmes it operates across the USA.

An Air Methods Bell 222 crashed in mountains near Salt Lake City, Utah, on 11 January, killing the pilot, two medical crew and patient on board. The helicopter had just picked up an avalanche victim.

It was Air Methods' second fatal accident in a month.

Source: Flight International