Life-Saving Air Service Finds Home at Allegheny County Airport

AGC houses one of three Air Methods aircraft repair stations in U.S.

By gmastrangelo

Published June 3, 2024

Read Time: 3 mins


Allegheny County Airport has been around since 1931. And while it’s no longer the nation’s third largest airport, AGC is home to aircraft that are saving lives all over the country.

The county airport is home to a United Rotorcraft repair station, a division of Air Methods that provides life-saving care with a fleet of helicopters that provides medical care and evacuation services. The organization partners with healthcare facilities across the U.S. and operates from more than 350 bases across the country.

When those helicopters need repairs or maintenance, they are sent to a repair station. There are only three of those stations in the U.S., and Allegheny County Airport is the only one serving the East Coast.

There, a team of dedicated individuals works to ensure the helicopters are safe to fly again and, before long, send them back at an Air Methods base prepared to save lives.

An Airbus H135 helicopter undergoes maintenance inside Air Methods’ maintenance facility at Allegheny County Airport on April 30, 2024. (Photo by Beth Hollerich)

A shared goal

Air Methods and the Allegheny County Airport Authority, which operates AGC and Pittsburgh International Airport, share a common mission: Safety.

Jim Grube, production planner at United Rotorcraft, said that safety is at the core of everything the organization does. At ACAA, the same rings true.

“Safety, security and public health is one of our two dual imperatives at the Allegheny County Airport Authority,” said Lance Bagnoff, director of AGC. “It’s the North Star of everything we do. Air Methods is an integral piece of it because ultimately the goal is high quality maintenance services to enable safe aircraft operations.”

Air Methods’ location at AGC is ideal. Given the number of aeromedical operations surrounding the county airport, the organization fits right in. The airport also houses an aviation maintenance school, flight training operations, two fixed-base operators and a number of corporate and private planes. AGC saw its busiest year in more than a decade last year with more than 72,000 take-offs and landings occurring at the airport in 2023.

When Blue Sky News visited the repair station, staff were repairing about six aircraft, soon to be shipped off to locations all over the country. Typically, they aim to have one aircraft in and one out per week.

AGC is the sole designated repair station on the East Coast for Air Methods’ fleet of helicopters specialized in medical care and evacuation, fulfilling an important role in the fleet’s live-saving mission. (Photo by Beth Hollerich)

Jason Rasmussen, operations manager at the AGC repair station, is responsible for the overall operations of the facility. As an aviation professional of over 20 years, he sees the key role his organization plays in aviation.

“We put out a really good product and we’re proud of it. Everyone wants this place to succeed,” he said. “That really separates this organization from all the other ones that I’ve worked for.”

United Rotorcraft employs team members that have been with the organization for over 20 years. The team has learned to work together seamlessly, and there are departments dedicated to not only fixing the aircraft that arrives, but making sure those fixes are done perfectly.

Dave Buchanan, chief inspector at United Rotorcraft, is part of that team. For him, the job is more than routine work; it’s personal.

“I like being a part of the mission because at the end of the day, we’re saving lives,” he said. “And that’s what keeps me going.”

Go to Top