Any Aircraft, Any Mission

LifePort
Written by Jessica Ferlaino

Challenging environments call for complex tools and equipment, especially when dealing with mission-critical applications. LifePort, together with its subsidiary Enflite, designs, manufactures and certifies market-leading interior solutions for civil and military fixed and rotor wing aircraft and has become a leader in the aerospace industry.
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Founded in 1990, LifePort has brought a wide range of highly successful mission equipment products to market for the aviation industry. These innovative products offer market-leading combinations of decreased weight and maintenance, while increasing capability and durability.

Serving its global customer base from its Woodland, Washington headquarters, the company provides lightweight ballistic protection, air medical systems, command and control consoles, VIP interiors, and other highly-engineered components that support military and civil aircraft and their operators.

LifePort provides expert support throughout a product’s life cycle. Its products are built to last while offering unmatched innovation in terms of reduced weight and minimized maintenance thanks largely to industry-leading durability.

General Manager Noah Zuckerman discussed a recent customer-driven innovation that illustrates how a small improvement can make a big difference for its customers. “We just finished an improved machined stretcher with a wider back rest due to feedback we had received from the operator community.”

“They required a stretcher that was wider and longer, so we executed a design upgrade. A lot of what we do is driven by direct feedback from our operator community. By listening to our customers’ needs, we’re able to identify areas where innovation is needed and execute.”

Just a few years ago, LifePort was asked to take an interior solution that was designed for a larger aircraft and scale it down, replicating it to proportionally fit a smaller aircraft. The development process took ten months to achieve and put its engineering prowess to the test, but with flying colors, it delivered.

LifePort even solves problems for its customers that they didn’t even know they had. When a customer requested improvements to their MEDEVAC operation, the company jumped into action and proposed a solution that could simultaneously better address the Department’s needs, while improving patient care.

“We evaluated the stretcher system that they were operating in their larger aircraft and determined there was a better way to do so. This again drove us to innovate and bring a revolutionary Stanchion Litter System (SLS) to market,” explained Zuckerman.

Serving mission-critical applications, there is no question that quality must be of paramount importance. Likewise, LifePort has repeatedly demonstrated its capacity serving VIP customers, proving its reputation time and again. For Zuckerman, “VIP and Head of State customers count on us to provide the highest quality interior components. We have built a reputation by designing and manufacturing equipment of unparalleled quality, while supporting our customers throughout the overall lifecycle.” This is true across each of the markets the company serves.

LifePort developed its flagship product, the Patient Loading Utility System, or “PLUS” at a time when there weren’t many options for medical aircraft. Since that time, LifePort has become the standard in the industry while it continued to grow its capabilities and market reach. “An original air medical flight nurse and a pilot started the company, coming up with a better way to load patients in aircraft than what was available at the time. That development led to increasing customization to satisfy increasingly complex requests from the operator community,” said Zuckerman.

After refining its offering for fixed-wing multi-mission medical systems, LifePort entered the helicopter and custom VIP interior market. Further expansion continued by bringing high-performance poly-ethylene (HPPE) ballistic armor to market with early deliveries to domestic law enforcement agencies. LifePort then began creating custom interiors for OEMs like Sikorsky Aircraft even prior to being acquired by the manufacturer in 2010. LifePort, throughout its history, has continually found ways to improve, growing its capabilities and its ability to satisfy a broad range of customers in the market.

The company was founded with an entrepreneurial culture, a near requirement in the custom interior market and a company differentiator. Quality is ensured through internal quality management systems and processes such as AS9100D standards and other manufacturing certifications. Zuckerman credits the competition with maintaining a high standard for quality in the market as well.

What sets LifePort apart in the market is the depth of its experience and expertise. “There aren’t a lot of competitors that do everything that we do. We have competitors in armor, medical, or cabinetry, certainly, but there are very few companies that compete in all of those niche business areas,” he explained.

LifePort delivers solutions with total customer focus. “The approach we’ve taken over the years is listening to customers’ feedback – requirements, challenges, and mission parameters – in order to bring solutions to the market,” Zuckerman explained.

“Some projects utilize systems we’ve already designed, certified, and are ready to deliver, while other more challenging programs require a clean-sheet design approach,” he said.

The reason LifePort is able to consistently deliver a superior product is its internal commitment to ensuring that every member of its team understands the role they play for their customers’ operations around the world. “The more that an organization is able to focus on external customers and understand what drives true customer satisfaction, the stronger it becomes. Customers can really tell the difference,” Zuckerman said.

While the VIP cabinetry market continues to grow, and the medical sector remains stable, LifePort continues to find market adjacencies to break into and sees a lot of upside on the horizon with new products that are coming to market.

Zuckerman noted, “There are a lot of OEMs that are coming out with new platforms and those platforms are nearing certification and going into service. There is certainly room for development and innovation on the armor side. That market has been relatively stagnant in terms of really aggressive development for a couple of years now.”

This presents a great opportunity for LifePort to expand its reach into new aircraft and develop relationships with new customers to design interiors that push the envelope in terms of size, weight, and functionality. As Zuckerman identified, “That is an engineering and certification challenge for the company and represents a significant time commitment to undertake,” but LifePort has the high-quality engineering staff to support new projects.

LifePort, as it has always done, wants to continue to expand its portfolio. It is aggressively pursuing opportunities to make impressive, next-generation aircraft interiors that not only satisfy the needs of the customer, but are easy to maintain, faster to deliver, and ultimately, improve their operators’ performance. LifePort will continue its focus on supporting its customers in “Any Aircraft, Any Mission”.

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