Mayo Clinic Ambulance Service helicopters follow the most stringent air safety standards and procedures. The service is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Services (CAMTS), the industry's most respected stamp of approval for all aspects of air safety and quality.

Mayo Clinic Ambulance Service helicopters use instrument flight rules (IFR) flight procedures to increase the margin of aviation safety. In support of IFR operations, Mayo Clinic manages GPS approach and departure procedures to hospital helipads in southern Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

All members of the helicopter flight team use night vision goggles whether the transport is to a scene or is an interfacility transport.

Pilot training

We require all Mayo Clinic Ambulance Service helicopter pilots to have at least 2,500 hours of flight time. Pilots are IFR certified and are required to complete check rides with an FAA-approved check airman twice a year.

Helicopter safety features

Helicopters at all bases are model EC145s. Safety features of the EC145 include:

  • Twin turbine engines that provide up to a maximum of 738 shaft horsepower each
  • Single-pilot IFR equipped and operated
  • Duplex autopilot
  • Dual Global Positioning System (GPS) and multifunctional displays
  • Dual transponders
  • Audible and visual radar altimeters
  • Storm scope — a tracking device similar to radar — that helps detect lightning strikes
  • Weather radar
  • XM WX Weather radar
  • Traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS)
  • Traffic advisory system (TAS)
  • Traffic information system (TIS)
  • Helicopter terrain awareness and warning system (HTAWS)
  • Technisonic FM radio for new 800-megahertz (MHz) transmission
  • Video and voice recording
  • Wire strike kit, an external feature that enables the helicopter to cut through power lines in the event of accidental contact
  • 406 emergency locator transmitters
  • Outerlink, a flight tracking system
  • Night vision goggle equipped
  • Liquid oxygen tanks, which provide many hours of oxygen


Mayo One Helicopter follows all Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules for safe helicopter flight in both visual flight rules (VFR) and instrument flight rules (IFR) conditions.

All Mayo One Helicopter bases are equipped with sophisticated weather stations. In questionable weather, the pilot determines if Mayo One Helicopter can fly safely, without knowledge of the patient's condition.