Operator flies Cessna, Learjet and Hawker fleet out of South Florida, New York, Arizona and Puerto Rico.
By Brent Bundy
Phoenix Police Officer-Pilot AS350, AW119,
Things go wrong. And, unfortunately, situations can often occur when we are far from the safety and comfort of our homes. Whether across the country on business, or vacationing with family on a once-in-a-lifetime trip overseas, when misfortune strikes, we want – or need – to find a way home.
When the health and welfare of yourself or loved ones depend on getting to the location that will provide the necessary medical care, REVA is your way home.
From 2, REVA
In the late-1990s, Aero Jet International and Air Ambulance Professionals (AAP) were competitors in the airplane medical ambulance business in South Florida.
Both were based at FXE (Ft Lauderdale Exec, FL) and were enjoying success, particularly in conducting transports from the many Caribbean destinations frequented by cruise ships and island-hopping travelers.
Eventually, the 2 rivals began speaking to each other regarding a merger. A private equity firm entered into the conversation, and Aero Jet and AAP joined forces to become REVA in 2012. At that time, they were operating 3 aircraft. Over the next several years, REVA would rapidly grow its fleet to the current total of 18.
CEO Shannon Schell was brought in to help facilitate that growth and refine the business model. Although he attended the aviation powerhouse University of North Dakota, his degree was in Engineering Management.
“Most of my friends were in aviation, but I took a different route,” Schell recalls. That route was with UPS. He held several posts and managed multiple divisions over the next 2 decades.
After 7 location changes, Schell was done moving around the country, and he left to work for a telecommunications company. This lasted 3 years before aviation came back into his life as he accepted the position of COO at REVA in 2015, later becoming CEO.
“At the time, we were going through a lot of growth. With that type of growth, you need a lot of processes and procedures to be established; you need a repeatable model to be successful.
This was a perfect situation for me because that is what I had done with UPS, and I loved the aviation aspect,” Schell states. REVA moves people and UPS moves products, but the logistics are the same.
“The care delivery side of the business is unique, but we have an amazing team here that allows us to put it all together,” declares Schell.
“This team has allowed us to become the largest dedicated fixed-wing air ambulance operator in the Americas. We are in the business to move patients, and the reputation we have built has proven that REVA does that better than anyone.”
To accomplish its lofty goals, REVA must operate aircraft that meet the patient’s needs, as well as the company’s own performance, reliability, and safety requirements. REVA has found the sweet spot in the Bombardier Learjet 35. The current fleet of 18 aircraft includes 12 Learjet 35s, along with 2 Learjet 55s.
“These are the workhorses of the industry and our fleet, and they allow us to be cost conscious,” says Schell. “The Learjet 35 is hard to beat for speed, range, and efficiency.” In addition to the Bombardier Learjets, REVA operates Textron products: 1 Cessna 402, 1 Citation I/SP, and 2 Hawker 800XPs.
While still headquartered in Ft Lauderdale, REVA also has bases in prime locations. One of the Lear 35s is in Phoenix AZ to handle west coast needs, while the Cessnas cover the Caribbean flying out of San Juan PR. Both Hawkers are housed in Schenectady NY, and are utilized mainly for European calls and long-range transport services.
With demand for more flights across the Atlantic, REVA is exploring options for a European base. Schell states, “Over 90% of our flights involve an international component. The placement of our aircraft allows us to maximize our service.”
Director of Operations Roswell Greene keeps a careful, fiscally responsible eye on REVA’s future growth. He has been flying since buying his 1st airplane at 17 years old. After graduating from Embry-Riddle in 1986, he helped start – and worked for – numerous flight departments while flying a laundry list of aircraft. He joined Aero Jet in 2007 and was part of the team that joined forces to become REVA.
His responsibilities overseeing the day-to-day operations of the company keep him in the office, but he still conducts currency flights and check rides. Regarding REVA’s expansion, Greene explains, “We want to be the leader in medevac, so we are always looking at growth potential. However, no one has our safety standards and we won’t jeopardize that.
Everything we do is derived from safety. Others don’t have the support system we do with our number of aircraft. So, we are constantly looking at what we may need to add to continue to provide the cutting-edge service to our customers that we have the reputation of offering.”
Keeping the fleet moving means keeping pilots in the cockpits. That responsibility falls to Chief Pilot Travis Werth. While in college, working at his hometown airport DTW (Detroit Metropolitan, MI), he met some aviation-minded friends. “Up until then, I had never thought about flying.
I decided to escape the cold of Michigan for sunny Florida, where I started my aviation career,” the chief pilot recalls. By 1993, Werth had earned his CFII at FXE, and instructed on the side while working for Banyan Air Service.
His 1st jet experience came in 1995 with Cirrus Air, flying Learjet 24s and 35s. Cirrus was working with Aero Jet International, and Werth became an Aero Jet employee in 2002. “I was promoted to chief pilot the following year, and I’ve been with the company since that time.”
A lot has changed in Werth’s 24 years with the organization. He now has 52 pilots working under him, all full-time REVA employees. They are spread across the 4 bases, with Ft Lauderdale having the lion’s share at 33, 7 in Schenectady, 7 in San Juan, and 5 in Phoenix.
Werth still takes some assigned flights, but not as many as he’d like, with the rigors of scheduling and training his cadre of pilots keeping him busy. “On the company side, new hires receive 8 days of initial training, followed by 40–60 hours per year. In-house recurrent training is 2–3 days, and includes computer-based work,” explains Werth.
“For the flight portion, we send everyone to FlightSafety Intl twice every 12-months.” While the increasing shortage of pilots on the market has had some effect, the company is still finding qualified applicants from commercial operators, the military, and former CFIIs.
“We have an amazing and talented group of pilots and I cannot say enough about them. At the end of the day, we’re making a difference in someone’s life,” Werth adds.
Variety of medical services
Dir of Global Air Medical Ops Steve Williams makes sure REVA’s patients receive the very best care. He has 33 years of experience under his belt as he supervises the daily medical operations of REVA.
“My responsibilities include anything that relates to the medical crews onboard the airplane. Patient care, equipment, recommendations on policies and procedures, and so forth.
I also work very closely with our Medical Director, Dr David Farcy.” Born and raised in London, where he received his nursing certification, Williams wanted to be involved in aviation medicine.
“We didn’t have the level of advancement in that area in the UK, so I moved to the States,” he says. He made his way to South Florida, where he initially worked as a flight nurse on helicopters.
He spent a lot of time transporting patients from cruise ships, and this eventually led him to accept the position of director of medical operations for Carnival Cruise Line in 2000.
“I traded planes for ships, but I was coordinating transports with helicopters and airplanes, so the work was quite similar,” he adds. After stints with 3 different cruise operators, Williams was pulled back into the air ambulance field in 2017, when he was offered his current position with REVA. In this role, he supervises a medical staff of 190 people.
Most of those positions are per-diem doctors and nurses, but they employ 37 full-time personnel, including 9 management positions and 28 nurses and paramedics. With this number of medical professionals handling the variety of patient care they experience, training is vital. Williams explains, “Approximately 1/4 of our payroll is invested into training, both initial and supplemental, to include annual, 6-month, and quarterly.
This is a rapidly changing field, so training is paramount. We’re doing things now that you would not have thought of doing just a few years ago.” While some of this is required to earn certification through organizations such as NAAMTA and EURAMI, REVA knows that to maintain the high level of service they provide, they must train and perform above industry standards.
Meeting these needs means thinking outside the box. REVA recently began providing medical escorts for non-critical patients flying on commercial air carriers.
“We provide flight nurses to patients who cannot travel alone and need a non-emergency level of care during a flight. It’s another service we can offer our customers, which comes at a greatly reduced cost of medical transport.”
REVA also partners with Directional Aviation, the parent company of charter operators such as Flexjet and Sentient Jets, to provide medical care aboard privately owned or chartered aircraft. Williams adds, “This is one of the things that sets REVA apart from others.
We offer a breadth of service that other companies simply do not have. But most importantly, it is our absolute focus on safety. Bringing together aviation and critical care is inherently challenging. It is imperative that we make sure it is done safely.”
Keeping the classics flying
With a fleet of aircraft that ceased production 25 years ago, there can be many challenges to ensure they stay safe and ready to fly. That is the job of Senior Director of Operations/Director of Maintenance Paul Coursey.
Coursey’s father was a Huey pilot in the US Army, but persuaded his son to pursue the maintenance side of aviation. After earning his A&P in 1987, Coursey went to work with Atlantic Southeast Airlines in Macon GA.
He began his climb up the management ladder, and the next several years found him moving around the country, taking over various supervisory positions. His experience came to fruition in 2016 when REVA called offering him the head maintenance job. “I really enjoy the leadership role, and I wanted to contribute to a greater cause, so this position is perfect for me,” Coursey states.
Coursey oversees 12 A&P mechanics who complete all Part 135 maintenance, including ABCD checks. They can conduct 20,000 hr inspections but usually send out 12-year inspections to a local accredited shop.
All REVA maintenance personnel operate out of the Ft Lauderdale base. When work is necessitated at outlying bases, contract techs are used.
Acknowledging the challenges of keeping an older fleet airworthy, Coursey says, “My job is to have aircraft ready for the missions.
Parts availability, repair vendors, etc, are things that affect that. I try to keep the right stock and supplies to cover our needs. It can be challenging, but we have a great system in place.
There is a lot of self-satisfaction in knowing that you’re helping people in need. People’s lives depend on our ability to have aircraft available. I take great pride in that sense of accomplishment.”
The REVA Ops Center
Once the pilots, medical staff and planes are ready, those components must be coordinated for the task at hand. That is where Director of REVA Operations Center Eddie Hubbard comes in. The REVA Ops Center (ROC) is the heart of the company.
Hubbard points out, “Our patients come from 4 areas: insurance carriers, travel assistance, health systems, and private payers. But no matter the source, the handling of them all goes through the ROC.”
This command center, located at REVA’s Ft Lauderdale headquarters, is staffed 24/7 by 16 personnel, half of which are bilingual. They are divided into sales and dispatch assignments with 4–6 on-site at any given time. Requests for service will come into the ROC through phone calls or online applications. At that point, a client resource manager (CRM) gathers the information and provides a quote within 20–30 minutes.
If the quote is accepted, the trip details are assembled and passed to the dispatch side. Once in their hands, the pilots, aircraft and other logistics are aligned, and the mission is assigned. Hubbard, like Schell, has a background with UPS and some exposure to the world of aviation. However, he has found that his logistical experience has been an asset to REVA.
He sums up this career choice when he states, “You can make a difference here. You’re given the ability to make changes in people’s lives. And, as a company culture, the reputation and integrity that REVA maintains are 2nd to none.”
Culture of safety
A constant theme at REVA is its dedication to safety. They maintain certification from all major monitoring organizations, including ARGUS, IS-BAO, and others.
The company’s perfect safety record has been rewarded with a full trophy case: AAMS Fixed-Wing Award of Excellence, ITIJ Air Ambulance Company of the Year, Dept of Defense Patriot Award, and many more.
While assuring this high level of commitment to safety falls to every employee, oversight of the program has been assigned to Sr Director of Safety, Training and Compliance Emma Roberts.
After 9 years with Spirit Airlines, she joined REVA in 2017. During her time here, she has taken a particular interest in the Safety Management System (SMS).
“The SMS program is the umbrella over our risk analysis program. It provides the necessary structured approach,”says Roberts. She relates that everyone in REVA is onboard with the safety culture the company promotes.
“We work in a field that encompasses 2 of the most regulated businesses – emergency medicine and aviation. And we combine them. We are a team in this, we have to be.
Everybody within REVA takes a very professional approach to safety.” Another key person assuring that safety levels are maintained, particularly with new pilots, is Standards Captain Ray Keith.
He joined REVA after an enlistment in the US Marine Corps, followed by a career as an electronics technician. At 33 years old, he began his foray into aviation. After earning his ratings, he worked as a flight instructor, and then entered into the charter world. In 2011, he joined the REVA team as a line pilot and worked his way up to his current position.
With the responsibility of training new pilots and maintaining REVA’s high safety standards, he keeps quite busy. “Our pilots can fly 500–600 hours a year, especially at the Ft Lauderdale base, with 95% of that being international.
We absolutely must meet the highest level of safety. It is our #1 priority,” Keith states. “I’ve worked at several other companies, and REVA is heads and tails above the others.”
REVA gets you home
Fly home. Feel better. That is the motto of REVA. For the past 7 years, its goal has been to get people in need to the location where they can receive the care they require. That is exactly what they have done in over 30,000 missions perfectly executed in 70 countries. With highly trained medical teams and skilled pilots following the most stringent of safety standards, rest assured that, when someone needs medical transport, REVA will get them there.
Brent Bundy has been a police officer with the Phoenix Police Dept for 28 years. He has served in the PHX Air Support Unit for 18 years and is a helicopter rescue pilot with nearly 4000 hours of flight time. Bundy currently flies Airbus AS350B3s for the helicopter side of Phoenix PD’s air unit and Cessna 172, 182s and 210s for the fixed-wing side.