Yesterday it was reported that Prince William, future King of Australia, had passed a rigorous exam on the path to becoming an Air Ambulance helicopter pilot. Taking up a position in March with East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) service, The Duke of Cambridge will cover the Cambridge area and hopes to work ‘as close to full time as possible’. The Duke will be a paid employee of the Service. His last posting was with the RAF Search and Rescue team in 2013.
The EAAA currently fly two EC 135 T2 aircraft and say these are the most widely used helicopters for air ambulance work in the UK because of their size, performance, reliability and cost.
As the 2015 Avalon Airshow gets into full swing, Ambulance Victoria is also embarking on a new path, taking delivery of it’s first new AW-139 helicopter, to replace the existing fleet of air ambulance choppers based at Essendon, Bendigo, the Latrobe Valley and Warrnambool.
Most of the current helicopter fleet is part of the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS), however the Essendon helicopter is used for both ambulance and police work. It is staffed by a police pilot, observer and a MICA flight paramedic. It is a Dauphin twin engine helicopter capable of carrying two stretcher patients.
The Latrobe Valley, Bendigo and Warrnambool helicopters are used only as emergency ambulance vehicles but have dual purpose. They are Bell 412 helicopters and are also fitted for bucket capability to be used in aerial firefighting.
While other states have enjoyed the performance of the AW139 for some time, this is Ambulance Victoria’s first. Emergency Management Queensland operates a number of AW-139’s with the assistance $10m funding from Rio Tino over ten years. These EMQ AW139’s saw extensive use during topical cyclone Marcia and NSW Ambulance has three dedicated AW139 Air Ambulances servicing the greater Sydney area with two additional helicopters.
Australian Helicopters won a competitive tendering process in 2014 to supply six new AW139 Air Ambulance helicopters, with support, for a ten year period. The company sought expressions of interest from pilots, aircrew and engineers in late 2014 offering fixed base employment locations at the four bases.
Finmeccanica – AgustaWestland and Australian Helicopters have timed their media release with the Airshow, announcing the delivery of the first AW139 intermediate twin-engine helicopter configured for Ambulance Victoria requirements. Transition to the six AW139’s should be completed in early 2016. The new fleet is expected to serve the state for over a decade.
Australian Helicopters’ managing director, John Boag, says “the internal dimensions of the AW139 makes them the best choice for primary and secondary EMS applications and the perfect choice for their contract with Ambulance Victoria. The AW139 are faster, can travel longer distances without refueling and utilize state-of-the-art avionic technology.
The company press release states the AW139 is the benchmark intermediate twin-engine helicopter with orders for more than 840 having been placed by over 220 commercial and government customers in over 60 countries.
The AW139’s flat floor, large cabin doors and unobstructed cabin provide easy and quick access for stretchers and patients. Featuring the new Honeywell Primus Epic fully integrated avionics package, a four-axis digital AFCS and large flat panel colour displays in the cockpit, are designed to reduce pilot workload and allow the crew to concentrate on the demands of the mission.
In total, over 50 AgustaWestland helicopters are currently in service in the Australia and New Zealand.
Australian Helicopters, a Babcock International Group company, provides mission-critical helicopter support for a range of services including Emergency Medical (EMS), Search and Rescue (SAR), surveillance operations, law enforcement, aerial work and Marine Pilot Transfer (MPT).