Due to Construction Project at UNC Hospitals, UNC Air Care Helicopters Are Refueling at Horace Williams Airport

This is a temporary measure expected to last until mid-May.

Media contact: Tom Hughes, 984-974-1151,  

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – April 23, 2018 – Due to an ongoing chilled water upgrade construction project at UNC Hospitals, UNC Air Care’s helicopters are not able to refuel on site. As a result, our helicopters must fly instead to Horace Williams Airport in Chapel Hill for refueling.

Because these are very short flights, the helicopters fly at a lower altitude than usual, and as a result the noise from the helicopters can be disruptive for people who live under the flight path from UNC Hospitals to Horace Williams Airport. We are aware that this is an inconvenience to these town residents, we understand and appreciate their concerns, and we have asked our pilots to minimize the disturbance as much as possible. 

We expect to resume helicopter refueling operations at UNC Hospitals by Monday, May 14. After that date, our helicopters will no longer need to fly to Horace Williams Airport on a daily basis to refuel, and this will greatly reduce the number of our flights into and out of that airport. 

We will still need to make occasional landings at Horace Williams Airport after May 14. For example, sometimes multiple helicopters transporting patients arrive at about the same time, and we don't have enough helipads at UNC Hospitals for all of them to land. When this happens, one or more helicopters have to land at Horace Williams Airport and wait until a helipad at UNC Hospitals becomes available. 

The chilled water upgrade construction project replaces existing underground chilled water distribution piping and increases chilled water system capacity to meet the growing cooling demands of UNC Hospitals to ensure proper indoor environmental conditions necessary for patient care. It is critical to ensure we have the capacity to cool our buildings to provide comfortable spaces for our patients, visitors, physicians, nurses and others.

If cooling capacity is not adequate or is disrupted during the warm months, temperatures within UNC Hospitals could rise by more than ten degrees within 90 minutes. This could lead to equipment failures, the need to postpone surgeries, diagnostic tests and procedures, or other undesirable outcomes.

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