The Italian National Fire Corps (Vigili del Fuoco) has signed a contract for three AW139 twin engine helicopters. The order, valued at around 45 million euros, also includes integrated logistic support and training for pilots and technicians, and encompasses an option for 12 additional machines. Deliveries of the three aircraft are expected to start shortly and to be completed in 2019.
More than 816,000 rescue operations occur every year countering fires across Europe, including many in Italy. In order to better face these challenges, Vigili del Fuoco, part of the department of firefighters, public rescue and civil defence within the Ministry of the Interior, is acquiring the AW139s following a competitive tender launched in 2017. Once in service, the helicopters wiil also carry out maritime and mountain SAR, medical rescue, and disaster relief/civil protection.
The AW139s are expected to progressively replace the organisation's AB412s helicopters, which have been in service for decades. The new arrivals will feature a wide range of mission equipment, including an external rescue hoist, cargo hook with bambi bucket provision, weather radar, multi-band and satellite communication systems, high definition Forward Looking Infra-Red/Low Light TV (FLIR/LLTV) system, Leonardo's HD mission console with digital recorder, high definition down link, Leonardo's Optical Proximity LiDAR System (OPLS), NVG capability, new generation Trakka searchlight, emergency floatation system and external life rafts, external loudspeaker, medical rack and bubble windows.
The AW139's cabin can be accessed by two sliding doors and its Pratt & Whitney Canada engines offer OEI capability, while the cockpit includes fully integrated avionics, a four-axis digital Automatic Flight Control System with dedicated SAR modes and large flat panel colour displays, reducing pilot workload and allowing the crew to concentrate on the mission.