I fly for Voyageur Airways on the Super King Air 200, working exclusively on the dedicated Medevac contract for the Ontario Ministry of Health. This contract calls for an aircraft and crew of 2 pilots and 2 Critical Care Paramedics to be at the air base 24 hours a day, 365 days a year for critical medical flights throughout Ontario. The Paramedics we carry are trained to provide the very top level of patient care, and as such are usually only employed on the more serious cases, instead of routine patient transfers. We work a 12 hour shift and have to be on site at the base for the entire duration, ready to go 10 minutes after receiving a call. This isn't as bad as it sounds, as the base is very comfortable, complete with Satellite TV, comfortable recliners, kitchen/dining areas, and internet service. The amount of flying has absolutely no predictable nature--you never know where you are going until the phone rings, you may fly 9 hours in a shift, or not go anywhere at all. Night shifts are a unique challenge, especially if you get the phone call at 3 a.m. to go out in -30 and have to climb out of that recliner and into a cockpit in less than 10 minutes!
The flying we do out of the medevac bases (Sioux Lookout and Timmins) is very varied, and can be quite challenging. We operate into both 3000' gravel strips as well as busy Terminals such as Toronto, often on the same call! We generally don't leave Ontario, except for the odd U.S. destination close to the border, or Winnipeg. The 200 is a very capable airplane, which is happiest in the mid-20's and trues out at 250 knots. It has an IFR GPS on board and the fleet is being re-fitted to include a full Hazard Awareness system including TCAS, GPWS, Weather Radar and Moving Map, all on one integrated display.
Voyageur is an above-average company at this level, and has a deserved reputation for safety and SOP's which are practically unparalled amongst it's competition. Maintenance is top-notch, and the company never puts pressure on it's pilots to push the limits. The salary has improved over the past year or so, with the Captain's salaries doubling over the past 2 years. They are now amongst the better paid 200 Captains in the country. Scheduling at the medevac bases is also good, with most guys managing at least 6-8 days off in a row per month, working a total of 13 to 16 days a month. Upgrades from FO to Captain historically have been quick at Voyageur, however with the general slowdown in the industry this has had the effect of stablizing the crews, with upgrades now taking anywhere from 1 -2 years, depending on what base you end up at. Having said that, everyone receives a Captain's type rating on the machine, and most Captain's are pretty good at letting an FO fly his legs from the left seat after he proves himself capable. This enables an FO to develop his Captain's skills, and log some Turbine PIC while waiting for an upgrade. All upgrade candidates are sent to Flightsafety for initial upgrade training before going online.
I would recommend Voyageur to anyone looking to advance his or her career with some quality turbine time, who is interested in working with some great people in a safe and professional environment.
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