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AirCare 4 copter arrival in Warren County delayed

By Joe Beck -- jbeck@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- Despite obstacles encountered over the last month, the PHI AirCare 4 helicopter will be arriving at the Front Royal-Warren County Airport within the next few weeks. a county official and company manager said Wednesday.

"We've run into some snags, but nothing we're not working through," Deputy County Administrator Robert B. Childress said.

AirCare 4, currently operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week out of Winchester Regional Airport, was supposed to complete its move to Front Royal weeks ago. But PHI Air Medical, the company that owns the service, has been slowed by delays in delivery and installation of facilities that will serve as crew quarters and operations office, Childress said.

"They're still coming to Warren County. They're just working through some logistical issues to make that happen," Childress said PHI.

Childress said he was hoping that AirCare 4 will be operating out of Front Royal by May 1, but Chris Shaffer, business operations manager for PHI Air Medical, said the company will probably have to wait until the second week before it has the occupancy permit and other paperwork needed for flight crews to move in.

In the meantime, company maintenance workers are expected to begin moving supplies and equipment into a hangar at the airport today, he said.

"The staff of PHI are glad to come down" to Front Royal, Shaffer said. "It's going to be great for us and the community."

Childress said installation for the foundation of a trailer that will house the flight crews is likely to be completed by the end of the week.

Shaffer said the move to Front Royal puts the helicopter near the center of the population it serves. Its current location near the Winchester Medical Center means many residents around the airport don't need the helicopter for quick transport to the hospital, unlike those who live greater distances in Page, Warren and Shenandoah counties and the southern part of Frederick counties.

"We did an analysis that showed the majority of our customers come from this area," Shaffer said, referring to Warren County and surrounding territory. "We'll be able to get to patients quicker, which is going to give a better outcome to patients and customers."

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