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United Rotorcraft: Making a Difference

Jen Boyer | May 14, 2021

Estimated reading time 8 minutes, 11 seconds.

At the heart of United Rotorcraft is a true passion for making the ultimate difference in people’s lives.

A division of Air Methods, United Rotorcraft designs, manufactures, and installs mission critical equipment for emergency medical service (EMS), firefighting, search-and-rescue, VIP, military, and law enforcement organizations. 

“There is a real sense of pride in the work we do saving lives,” said United Rotorcraft president Larry Alexandre. “It is at the heart of everything we do. We take this work very seriously, from design to final installation and beyond to our customer support.”

At the forefront of United Rotorcraft’s portfolio is its vast array of EMS completions for all Bell, Airbus, and Leonardo models used in airborne medical service. Its intimate relationship with Air Methods allows the company unique insights into helicopter EMS operational needs. United Rotorcraft puts this insight to work designing and refining equipment to meet the utilitarian, ergonomic, and comfort needs of medical teams. The result is high-quality products customers value to perform their jobs at peak performance.

As demand increases overseas for advanced life support-capable aircraft, United Rotorcraft has begun expanding its kit completion products. Kits designed to meet customer specifications are most commonly ordered from international customers, allowing them to benefit from the best air medical equipment at a fraction of the cost of shipping the aircraft to the U.S. for completion.

United Rotorcraft’s EMS expertise extends into the military sector, where the company’s more battlefield-ready advanced life support products are put to the test, including a stacking litter system for increased mission flexibility. The company offers these products for both the Black Hawk and the U.S. Army’s Stryker and AMPV ground vehicles.

With its expertise in EMS interiors and aircraft modifications, United Rotorcraft’s expansion to support the multi-mission Sikorsky Firehawk conversion came naturally. Whether receiving contracts to convert customers’ existing public use UH-60 Blackhawks into the rescue and firefighting aircraft, or completing a brand new S70i/M, United Rotorcraft puts its dedicated focus into the details.

“Our unique position as a fully vertically integrated company allows United Rotorcraft to go the extra mile when completing Firehawks,” Alexandre said. “Through our tight relationship with Sikorsky, we complete each aircraft to the customer’s specifications. That could be the basic landing gear extension and a 1,000-gallon belly tank. Or it could include a full medical interior, rescue hoist, aviation package, and paint job. Our ability to do the entire job, from design and manufacture to installation and completion, allows us to deliver the best products at the most attractive price.” 

The company continues to ride a wave of orders for the Sikorsky Firehawk conversion, with more than 10 orders on the books and six delivered. As fires burn longer and hotter, the demand for larger and more versatile firefighting aircraft keeps this sector of United Rotorcraft’s business growing. United Rotorcraft is working on and expects to receive a supplemental type certificate (STC) for the first S-70M Firehawk fire system by mid-2022, opening the international market to the restricted aircraft. The company is already in talks with customers in Europe and Asia interested in the Firehawk conversion.

Some of the most customized work United Rotorcraft performs is for airborne law enforcement (ALE) customers. With each agency requiring variations in mission equipment, rarely are any two customer orders for ALE avionics and accessories the same. In addition to installing their own products, United Rotorcraft works with the customer to incorporate those of other vendors, including the customers’ own designs, to meet customer needs.

Lean vertical integration

United Rotorcraft differentiates itself through its turnkey vertical integration. Every step from design, test, validation and certification to installation and maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) is done in-house, giving United Rotorcraft considerable flexibility to both quickly perform work and also customize to a customer’s specifications.

“There is almost always the need to tailor to our customer needs, which allows us to stand apart in our customer service,” said Brit McDermett, United Rotorcraft vice president of sales and marketing. “When a customer really needs customization, United Rotorcraft is the place to go.”

Riding the wave of growth and opportunity, United Rotorcraft recently reorganized its leadership to refocus on service and product delivery. It has almost doubled its sales, customer support, and program management team, including adding its first overseas team member, while deploying lean across the company’s processes. Under Alexandre’s leadership, the company has already experienced a considerable drop in its production lead times.

“Adopting lean principles in all we do is the path to becoming a truly customer-centric organization,” Alexandre said of his leadership philosophy. “We want to keep our finger on the pulse of the industry and what our customers need. In parallel, we want all our teammates focused on waste elimination, with a clear intent to shorten lead times, ensure quality, and consistently deliver on time and on budget.”

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