CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WKBW) - Thanks to a long-term, low-interest $23 million loan from M&T Bank and the USDA, Mercy Flight has purchased three new Bell 429 helicopters to help replace its aging fleet. The new medical choppers are larger, faster and have better safety - but perhaps the biggest advantage is they can fly when there is zero visibility.
The FAA has given Mercy Flight permission to start conducting IFR flights - meaning flights where pilots rely solely on instruments.
Mercy Flight already owns a 2010 model of the Bell 429 helicopter but the rest of its fleet dates back to the 1980's. The newly purchased "429's" will be placed into service during the Spring/Summer of 2018.
During an announcement at Mercy Flight's headquarters in Cheektowaga, it was noted that purchasing the Bell helicopters has a special connection because Bell invented helicopters in Buffalo.
7 Eyewitness News Reporter Ed Reilly has more in his report.