The South African Red Cross Air Mercy Service (AMS) has signed a contract for three AW119Kx EMS-equipped helicopters to expand its fleet of five AW119Ke aircraft. The contract includes an option to acquire five additional units. The initial three aircraft will be delivered from AgustaWestland's Philadelphia facility between January and October 2016.
AMS will be the first civilian operator in South Africa to introduce night vision systems into air medical activities, enabling it to operate 24/7. This agreement will allow AMS to operate one of the most modern and efficient EMS fleets in sub-Saharan Africa. The AW119Kx was selected for its performance characteristics, including range, ability to operate in hot and high environments, and capability at unprepared landing zones in extremely dusty conditions.
Established in 1966 by the SA Red Cross Society and formed into an independent trust in 1994, AMS shares the principles and creed of the society. It is a non-profit organisation with bases in the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Mpumalanga. It provides an air ambulance network, rural health outreach and emergency rescue service to metropolitan areas and remote rural communities. Some of its recent work has included rescuing fishermen clinging to an overturned boat in stormy seas, transferring a critically ill baby from a regional hospital to a specialised children's ward, and flying health specialists into isolated areas.