State medical aircraft fleet gains state-of-the-art plane

Northwest Texas Healthcare System and Med-Trans Corporation are adding a state-of-the-art, twin-engine medical airplane to their collaborative LIFESTAR fleet.


The LIFESTAR King Air E-90 airplane, which will fly out of Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport, will be able to transport critical care nurses and paramedics to parts of Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas and New Mexico.

A pressurized turboprop plane, the King Air E-90 operates with a 1,400-mile range but will likely spend most of its time in the Panhandle, Northwest Texas Healthcare System marketing director Patrick Buckley said.

LIFESTAR also boasts an Airbus H135 LIFESTAR helicopter at the organization’s main Amarillo facility, as well as a Bell 407 helicopter in Pampa. The King Air E-90 will be able to fly in stormy weather, something the helicopters are not unable to do.

“(Patients) are going to go wherever their medical condition requires,” Buckley said. “If it’s burn care victim, they would go to Lubbock because (Lubbock) has a burn center.”

Med-Trans will keep a pilot and flight crew ready to fly at the airport, while Northwest Texas Healthcare System will provide physicians with expertise in fields like cardiac care, pediatrics and trauma services.

LIFESTAR aircraft can be used for emergent or non-emergent missions, though most patients require emergency care, Buckley said.

“(The plane) extends our reach so we can help folks who need something more than we can handle here,” he said.

The average price for a King Air E-90 is between $1 million and $4 million, depending on mileage and wear-and-tear, Gregory said.

“It’s a substantial investment in the LIFESTAR partnership,” he said.

Med-Trans is a Dallas-based air medical provider that contracts flight equipment with hospitals and treatment centers in 23 states.


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