Eurocopter and the German air rescue organisation DRF Luftrettung signed a purchase agreement on Monday for 25 EC146 T2 helicopters, making the air rescue organisation Europe’s largest customer for this type of helicopter.
With the purchase of these aircraft, the DRF Luftrettung will successively replace the BK 117s in its red-and-white helicopter fleet. The DRF Luftrettung is to put the first five aircraft into operation in 24-hour air rescue service in the window from December 2013 to the end of 2015.
The helicopters, developed and produced at Eurocopter in Germany, comprise an order volume of close to € 200 million. The remaining 20 helicopters in this order are to be delivered in phases through 2022. All EC145 T2 helicopters ordered by the DRF Luftrettung will be produced in Donauwörth, Germany and delivered to the customer from there following final assembly.
The DRF Luftrettung, based in Filderstadt, operates a total of 31 helicopter stations in Germany, Austria and Denmark, eight of them in 24-hour service. Equipped with state-of-the-art medical technology, these aircraft are used for rapid emergency rescue and for transporting intensive-care patients between clinics. The crews comprise experienced pilots, emergency physicians and rescue assistants of the DRF Luftrettung.
At the signing, Dr. Wolfgang Schoder, member of the Executive Committee of Eurocopter and responsible for all helicopter programmes, declared, “The conclusion of this forward-looking agreement with the DRF Luftrettung is particularly satisfying for us, as it affirms once more our position as the world’s leading provider of helicopters in the air rescue segment. I am also just as pleased by the fact that with this agreement we are continuing a long-standing partnership with the DRF Luftrettung that has been a success on both sides.”
Since 1973, the DRF Luftrettung has been building an international reputation with its helicopter fleet, from Alouette IIIs to BO 105s and BK 117s to EC 135s and EC 145s. A total of 46 Eurocopter helicopters are currently in service with the DRF Luftrettung. In 2010 alone, this non-profit organisation flew 36,900 rescue missions.
“To meet our own high quality targets, the DRF Luftrettung has been setting standards in the areas of flight operations, technology and medicine for many years. Top priority is on safety and efficiency, so the continuing development of the helicopters we deploy is essential,” declared Dr. Hans Jörg Eyrich, member of the Board of Directors of the DRF Luftrettung, at the signing.
“The EC 145 T2 is excellently suited for air rescue missions thanks to its performance capability and the Fenestron [tail rotor]. Particularly in night rescue missions, the shrouded tail rotor provides a further measure of safety. We already made an important step toward further developing night rescue operation procedures back in 2008 when we introduced night vision goggles as the only air rescue organisation Germany-wide to have done so. After Munich and Regensburg, we will soon be flying night-time emergency operations with night vision goggles from Berlin as well. With the deployment of the EC 145 T2 in our 24-hour operations, we will be able to rely on a helicopter that is optimally suited for the broadly varied requirements of modern air rescue,” the DRF Luftrettung director added.
The EC 145 T2 combines the technical know-how of the BK 117 and the EC 145 with new features such as the Fenestron tail rotor, four-axis autopilot and satellite-based navigation.