American Eagle, the regional affiliate of American Airlines, will equip its fleet of 229 jet and turboprop aircraft with automatic external defibrillators (AED) by spring of 2000.

   Eagle’s 1,100 flight attendants will be trained this fall to use the defibrillators. Its first defibrillator, manufactured by Hewlett Packard Heartstream of Seattle, will be installed in December.

   "Today’s state-of-the-art automatic external defibrillator has truly proven to be a lifesaver for passengers suffering from sudden cardiac arrest, " said Dr. David McKenas, medical director for AMR Corp. (NYSE: AMR), the parent of American Eagle.

   The American Heart Association estimates that 100,000 lives a year could be saved if AEDs were broadly deployed in areas where large groups of people gather, such as on aircraft, or in sports arenas and office buildings.

   The AED guides the flight attendant through the process with voice prompts, and the machine determines whether the patient needs an electrical shock and delivers it when appropriate.

   American Eagle is following the lead of its major partner, American Airlines, which has had 10 "saves" since it began deploying AEDs in July 1997.

   "American Eagle is a leader in regional aviation," said Peter Bowler, president of American Eagle. "The acquisition of these defibrillators, which represents a large investment in the safety of our employees and customers, is yet another example of our leadership role in this industry."