The Swiss Air-Rescue Service Rega has recently placed an order for 12 five-bladed Airbus H145 helicopters. These new aircraft, which will fly out of Swiss Air-Rescue’s mountain bases, are replacements for the organization’s aging fleet of AW109SP helicopters. With over 1,600 of the type already flying across the world, the H145 boasts high performance, a quieter engine, and the lowest CO2 emissions out of all of its competitors. This updated fleet brings modernization to Swiss Air-Rescue’s operations and will assist in the over 14,000 missions it performs annually.
The Swiss Air-Rescue Service has shown confidence and optimism in the new helicopter model. In a press release from Airbus, CEO of Rega—Ernst Kohler—explained, “By selecting the five-bladed H145, we are ensuring that Rega will continue being able to provide its patients with reliable and professional medical assistance by air for the next 15 years.”
The updated version of the H145 helicopter sports the latest in Airbus technologies, including an enhanced navigation system thanks to the utilization of new capabilities from Garmin’s Flight Management System GTN750 Xi. This new technology acts as a GPS, NAV, and COMM and is designed as a “slide-in” upgrade that can be made to pre-existing instrument displays.
Customers can enjoy faster rendering of maps and better panning through a touchscreen display. Maps within the display also utilize vibrant colors so pilots can better understand their position relative to terrain and weather, a feature that will be especially useful for the Swiss Air- Rescue during missions in the mountains. Wireless connectivity will also allow pilots to upload flight plans from their mobile device into the navigator.
In addition to a modernized flight management system, installation of Thales’ inertial navigation system will ensure safe flying even if the helicopter loses GPS signal. With improved navigation performance in low IFR conditions, the H145 will now be certified as navigation procedure RNP-AR 0.1. Though equipped with new, more pilot-friendly avionics, the H145 sports improvements well beyond the cockpit. Its five-bladed rotor raises the useful load of the helicopter by another 150kg. Additionally, the new rotor also allows for easier maintenance, better reliability, and improved comfort for passengers.
The new H145 promises to be a good fit for the Swiss Air-Rescue’s fleet. The helicopter has proven its high performance at altitudes (an important trait given the mountain missions it will fly) by landing on the Aconcagua in Argentina—the tallest peak in the western hemisphere. This is a feat no other twin engine helicopter has ever accomplished, giving Airbus and the Swiss Air-Rescue Service Rega confidence that the aircraft will perform well on high-altitude, critical missions. By the year 2026, the Swiss Air-Rescue Rega expects to operate a fleet of 21 five-bladed H145s.
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