Montana based Billings Flying Service is usually gearing up for its aerial firefighting season this time of year with its fleet of CH-47’s Bell 212s and 206s, but with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, two of the company’s engineers found a way to contribute to aiding those in need, helping local first responders protect themselves from the virus.

A Billings Flying Service engineer calibrates one of the several 3D printers tasked with printing masks that will assist first responders. Billings Flying Service image

A Billings Flying Service engineer calibrates one of the several 3D printers tasked with printing masks that will assist first responders. Billings Flying Service image

Billings Flying Service’s engineers Peter Yegen and Mikale Lynch read a newspaper article featuring a local dentist who had developed a prototype of a 3D printed mask that, if enough were made, would eliminate any worry of a shortage that many other areas were currently experiencing during the COVID-19 crisis.  The two got together to adjust the design of the mask so it could be more easily produced on their equipment and got to work producing them.

A look at the finished product of the face masks produced by Billings Flying Service for distribution to the Billings, MT first responder community. Billings Flying Service image.

A look at the finished product of the face masks produced by Billings Flying Service for distribution to the Billings, MT first responder community. Billings Flying Service image.

Although 3D printing is not a fast process, the printers at billings can pump out at least 18 masks a day. The masks are designed to be reusable, with a changeable filter section that can be replaced as needed.

The masks the Billings team are creating will be distributed to medical professionals in Billings, Montana once fitted with filters that are available locally. Due to the need for alternatives, Billings Flying Service has also been contacted by several other operations in the aviation sector to secure their updated design and plan to make it available for any that need it so they can print their own masks.