In Portugal, state-owned helicopter operator Empresa de Meios Aéreos (EMA) seems happy with the six Kamov Ka-32 A11BCs it acquired for firefighting and search-and-rescue operations (SAR). The 12-metric-ton Russian design, relatively rare in the Western world, can carry four tons of water. And it is much less expensive than its competitors, according to pilot and media officer João Manuel da Silva dos Santos.
Search and rescue
Sikorsky announced this week that it has sold two S-92 helicopters to the International Handling Co. (IHC). The contract includes the option to purchase four additional S-92 helicopters configured for offshore oil missions.
Delivery of the first aircraft is expected to take place in 2010. IHC, an Azerbaijan-based operator, plans to expand its service to the growing offshore oil industry based in Eurasia.
Norsk Helikopter has signed a six-year contract with StatoilHydro and ENI Norge for offshore oil platform helicopter transportation from Hammerfest, Norway, starting next year. The agreement includes two Eurocopter EC 225s, which will perform platform crew change services and 24/7 search-and-rescue in the Barents Sea.
AgustaWestland scored a big win last month with the sale of 12 new search-and-rescue (SAR)-configured EH 101 helicopters to the Portuguese government. In a deal valued at $313 million, Portugal voted to buy a fleet of the Anglo-Italian helicopters to replace its SAR fleet of Eurocopter Pumas. In winning the deal, AgustaWestland beat out an offer from Sikorsky for an equal number of its developing S-92 rotorcraft.
“If you haven’t flown a search-and-rescue (SAR) mission, it is difficult to appreciate just how hard it is to find an aircraft on the ground,” John Desmarais, emergency services plans officer at the national headquarters of the Civil Air Patrol, told AIN.
Among those involved in search- and-rescue operations at the World Trade Center after September 11 were several dogs and their handlers. Although corporate pilot Roseanne Perini was not available for the rescue efforts at the WTC disaster site because she was with her New York-based Gulfstream IV, she has been a search-and-rescue dog handler since 1998.
For those toiling for oil on the roiling North Sea, the stormy nature of that piece of water keeps the possibility of rescue constantly in mind. Traditionally that role has been filled by stationing formidably equipped rescue boats called emergency response and rescue vessels (ERRV) with each group of oil platforms.
The second of three AgustaWestland AW139s that CHC Helicopter will use for search-and-rescue operations off the south coast of England on behalf of the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) was delivered to the agency’s Lee-on-
Solent base last month.
Three teams bidding to take over the provision of UK search-and-rescue helicopter (SAR-H) services beginning in 2012 submitted their responses to the initial invitation to tender at the end of January and are embarking on a further round of dialogue before the program moves to the next selection stage.
This year’s Igor Sikorsky Humanitarian Award goes not to an individual, but to an organization that celebrated a special milestone last year. In 1957, the Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACFD) acquired its first helicopter, a Bell 47 G-2.