Between 2024 and 2026, Swiss Air-Rescue Rega plans to modernise its entire helicopter fleet in order to operate a single-type fleet comprising 21 rescue helicopters in the latest, five-blade version of the H145 manufactured by Airbus Helicopters. In March this year Rega purchased nine H145s; now it has signed an agreement to procure a further 12 rescue helicopters of the type. From 2024, these will be put into operation at Rega’s 14 Swiss mountain bases, replacing the current AW109SP DaVinci fleet.
Rega provides primary medical assistance by air around the clock for the Swiss population, so aircraft reliability is a decisive factor. For this reason, as from 2024, the DaVinci helicopters purchased in 2009, which have proven themselves in practice, will be replaced by the high performance H145 with a five-blade main rotor. These new helicopters will reduce the volume and cost of maintenance work and continue to uphold the availability rate of the fleet.
“With this decision, we are ensuring that in the next 15 years, Rega can continue to provide medical assistance by air to its patients professionally and reliably,” says CEO Ernst Kohler.
The new H145 is a technically sophisticated helicopter, ideally suited to missions in high mountain regions, not least due its five-blade rotor. In addition, it features a spacious cabin with sufficient room for medical equipment as well as medical interventions, which is particularly important on transfer flights for intensive care patients.
Airbus Helicopters has also designed a navigation and avionics system specially for Rega, which will allow instrument flight procedures to be performed in narrow valleys or challenging terrain even in the poorest of visibility. The system will use new capabilities of the GTN750Xi flight management system by Garmin. It will integrate and control a multi-sensor system that provides accurate and reliable navigation capacities. Even in the event of GPS signal loss, the helicopter will navigate safely due to Thales’ inertial navigation system. This solution will further boost the navigation performance in low IFR conditions and allows the helicopter to be certified as navigation procedure RNP-AR 0.1, which is the most accurate navigation procedure in the helicopter environment. The configuration also includes a hoist by Vincorion that is being certified on the five-bladed H145.
“To effectively operate life-saving air rescue services in Switzerland, we understand that the ability to perform optimally at altitude is paramount,” says Airbus CEO Bruno Evens. “The five-bladed H145 landed on the Aconcagua in Chile, a mountain that is nearly 7,000 metres high; no other twin engine helicopter has ever achieved this feat. That is why we are especially proud that Rega has put its faith in the five-bladed H145 and decided to make it the only helicopter type in its fleet to perform such critical missions.”
Having a single-type fleet simplifies servicing and maintenance for Rega, and saves money in terms of the procurement and management of spare parts. It also reduces crew training time and expenditure.
Rega is investing a total of over $214 million in the modernisation and expansion of its helicopter fleet. The AW109SP DaVinci helicopters that have been retired from service, together with the four-bladed Airbus H145, will be sold.