In 1996 David Fox was working full-time as an emergency nurse at a downtown Toronto hospital. In his spare time Fox began working as a patient escort on commercial flights and eventually recruited several fellow nurses in order to take on additional flights. Within a year, the fledgling commercial medical escort business had become a full-time concern for Fox, and Fox Flight was born.
Two years after launching as a commercial medical escort service, Fox Flight was ready to take the next step. In 1998 the company purchased a Citation 500 Eagle and reconfigured the plane to accommodate medical transfers. Initially operating with two pilots out of Billy Bishop Toronto Island Airport, Fox Flight completed 50 medical repatriations in its first year of flight operations.
With one plane now in operation in addition to commercial medical escorts, the volume of Fox Flight traffic was growing rapidly. Restrictions related to weather and 24-hour operation soon forced the company to relocate to Toronto’s Lester B. Pearson International Airport, where operational efficiency benefitted from larger facilities and more convenient access to commercial flights.
After watching the tragic events of September 11, 2001 in New York City on television, the entire Fox Flight staff felt the need to do something. The company immediately loaded a Fox Flight ambulance with medical supplies and equipment and Dave Fox, along with two other Fox Flight nurses (Eve Crehor and Blair Belgrave), set off on the nine-hour journey to New York. The three nurses spent the next four days in and around Groud Zero assisting victims of the terrorist attack, first responders and rescue workers. “The devastation was overwhelming,” recalls Fox, “but it felt good just to be there to help in some small way. It was the kind of experience you never forget.”
By 2005, Fox Flight was an established operator in the medical repatriation business serving destinations in North America and the Caribbean. In order to extend the company’s reach into growing markets in Europe and Asia, the decision was made to switch to a Lear 36A air ambulance (C-FEMT). Offering much greater range and air speed, the Lear allowed Fox Flight to further progress toward its goal of becoming a truly global leader in medical repatriation services.
The rapidly growing demand for Fox Flight’s international medical repatriation services eventually maximized the capacity of the company’s single Lear air ambulance. In response to this demand, the company acquired a Lear 35 (C-GUAC) and reconfigured it to handle critical care medical evacuations. The addition of the second plane allowed Fox Flight to quickly increase business volume and expand its staff to 30.
Now a recognized leader in international medical repatriation, Fox Flight continued to explore avenues for expansion into foreign markets. After experimenting with offices in Barbados and China, Fox Flight took an interest in Asia Air Ambulance, a company based in Bangkok, Thailand. Since implementing Fox Flight’s operational procedures and systems, Asia Air Ambulance has experienced a significant increase in business volume and is now a recognized leader in medical repatriation in the Asia-Pacific region.
In response to the growing demand for medical repatriation services to and from destinations in Europe, Fox Flight sought and received accreditation from the European Aeromedical Institute (EURAMI). EURAMI provides accreditation for aeromedical transfer services operating throughout Europe and the world via both fixed-wing and rotor aircraft. In order to achieve EURAMI accreditation, providers must undergo an extensive audit and review of their procedures related to patient care, daily operations, flight and patient documentation, staff training and ongoing aircraft maintenance. Fox Flight was re-accredited by EURAMI in 2012 and 2015.
In addition to exceptional patient care, superior flight maintenance is a core element of a successful international medical repatriation service. In 2010, Fox Flight brought its aircraft maintenance operations in-house and took the required steps to achieve Approved Maintenance Organization (AMO) status from Transport Canada. Fox Flight now retains a staff of four aviation mechanics that handle all ongoing maintenance for its current fleet of specially configured Lear air ambulances.
The rapidly growing demand for Fox Flight’s international medical repatriation services eventually maximized the capacity of the company’s fleet of two specially configured Lear air ambulances. To meet this growing demand, the company acquired a third plane, a second Lear 35 (C-GIWO), which was already configured to handle critical care medical evacuations. With the addition of a third air ambulance to its fleet, Fox Flight has been able to incrementally grow its flight volume to take advantage of the burgeoning global medical repatriation market.
Fox Flight makes a strategic decision to further maximize its flight capacity by adding another specially configured Lear 35 (C-GTDM) jet to its fleet of air ambulances. With the addition of a fourth jet to its fleet, the company has been able to meet demand for its services while maintaining an optimum maintenance schedule, with one plane on constant standby while another cycles through a full flight systems check and overhaul at any given time.
In late 2014, to better reflect the company’s growing reputation as a global leader in international medical repatriation services, Fox Flight undertook a comprehensive rebranding initiative. This initiative encompassed all customer touchpoints–including the company logo, employee attire, office and web graphics, documentation and vehicle paint schemes—and established a brand consistency throughout the organization that matches the company’s high level of service and professionalism.
In early 2015, Fox Flight’s management committee determined that a reorganization of the company’s operations was required to meet increased flight volume and position the company for future growth. The reorganization included a comprehensive redesign and renovation of the company’s hangar facilities, including the installation of four dedicated work stations–two for maintenance staff, one for pilots and one for medical staff. In addition, the company’s dispatch and administration operations were transferred to a customized office space at 200 Evans Avenue in Toronto’s west end. The new head office features segregated, fully secure areas for administration, dispatch, medical flight prep and supply storage, as well as offices for the Chief Pilot and Director of Operations.
In May 2016, Fox flight was certificated by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) as an authorized third-country Commercial Air Operator, or CAO. To achieve this certification, Fox Flight underwent a comprehensive audit of its safety record and procedures related to equipment, maintenance and training. In addition, the company’s fleet of air ambulances had to meet EASA standards with respect to plane avionics, traffic collision avoidance (TCAS) and flight data recorders.