Operating with highly modern equipment
3 January: For the first time in its history, Swiss Air-Rescue suffers the loss of a crew member during an avalanche rescue mission. A Rega physician and six other helpers die in the course of the rescue work after an avalanche accident occurs in the Diemtigtal in the Bernese Oberland. While the casualties are being attended to on the avalanche cone, further masses of snow break away, burying the rescuers beneath them.
30-31 January: The first transatlantic flight takes place with the so-called “life box”, a small heart-lung machine (ECMO) – a world premiere. Already during the flight, the patient's condition is successfully stabilised.
16-19 April: Parts of Swiss airspace are closed due to the clouds of ash from the Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjalla. Rega provisionally stations two ambulance-jets in Spain and Italy in order to be able to remain operational. Thanks to this precautionary measure, two children with severe burns can be flown from Bergen (Norway) to a special clinic in Boston (USA).
19-21 May: The Rega Symposium 2010 is a resounding success: 150 delegates from the field of air-rescue travel to Grindelwald from Europe, the USA, and even Australia. The congress topics deal with the future challenges facing the air-rescue sector. The event culminates in a flight demonstration of state-of-the-art rescue techniques performed against the imposing backdrop of the Eiger north face.
4 October: The Rega crew from the Lausanne helicopter base flies Swiss Air-Rescue’s 300,000th mission since it was founded in 1952.
1 February: Rega launches its own emergency app for the iPhone: iRega. Already on 5 February, a snowshoe trekker uses iRega to request emergency assistance for his injured companion – and the coordinates transferred enable the rescue team to land at the exact site of the accident in the Furka region.
2 March: Rega refers the ruling by the Federal Administrative Court that Rega patrons’ contributions should continue to be subject to VAT to the Federal Supreme Court. The entire amount of these contributions should, as before, be used to finance air-rescue services.
17 March: The first Rega ambulance jet bearing the new livery lands at Zurich Airport. The repainting of all three aircraft was the last measure in the major overhaul carried out after eight years of operation.
27 July: Thanks to satellite navigation, Rega can now also fly direct to the Inselspital University Hospital in Berne when visibility is poor. The Federal Office of Civil Aviation has approved Switzerland's first civilian GPS approach flight procedure for helicopters. As a result, patients benefit from improved safety in adverse weather conditions and high-lying fog.
16 March: For the first time in its history, Rega deploys its entire fleet of ambulance jets on the same mission. After the tragic coach crash in Canton Valais, Rega flies 14 children back home to Belgium. Further repatriation flights follow on 22 March.
27–29 April: On 27 April, Rega celebrates its 60th anniversary, and during the next two days it opens the doors of the Rega Centre at Zurich-Kloten Airport to the general public. Over 20,000 visitors flock to Swiss Air-Rescue’s headquarters. Further anniversary celebrations take place on 9 June at the helicopter base in Lausanne, on 23 June at the Berne base, on 7 July at the base in Dübendorf and on 18 August on Barfüsserplatz, in the centre of Basel.
27 September: Rega’s chief helicopter pilot, Heinz Leibundgut, receives the Aerosuisse Award. With this prize, the Swiss aviation and aerospace industry’s umbrella organisation pays tribute to his outstanding achievements in the field of helicopter flight safety and reliability.
3 December: Rega puts its new dispatch system into operation. The introduction of this new system represents a key milestone within the major REMICO (REga MIssion COntrol) project. During the holiday period, the system is fully put to the test for the first time.
8 February: Rega’s flight simulator for its Da Vinci mountain helicopters commences operation. Rega pilots are now able to complete a substantial part of their IFR training in the simulator. They can also practise emergency situations, something that is not possible to replicate in a real helicopter.
1 March: For the first time in Rega’s history, a helicopter rescue mission is performed entirely under instrument flight rules (IFR). The transfer of the patient from Lugano to Aarau in the Da Vinci helicopter goes off without a hitch.
21 April: Rega is continually investing in its infrastructure and dense network of helicopter bases. After a two-year construction period, the new base in Gordola, near Locarno, is inaugurated – and the inhabitants of Ticino join in the celebrations at the Open Day.
29 April: The modernised Operations Centre in the Rega Centre at Zurich Airport goes into operation. At its heart is a state-of-the-art integrated dispatch system. Rega’s rescue missions can now be largely digitalised and thus coordinated more efficiently than ever.
22 October: In Zernez, the last of Rega’s countrywide radio stations is equipped with brand new devices. The modernisation of the 42 stations is part of the major infrastructure project, REMICO, which, among other things, is aimed at upgrading Rega’s radio network.
1 November: Rega celebrates its 2.5 millionth patron, the seven-strong Kradolfer family from Erlen, Canton Thurgau. Never before have so many patronage cards been issued nor has the support of the Swiss population been so great.
21 November: One year after the first sod was turned, Rega celebrates the inauguration of its newest helicopter base at Zweisimmen Airport. The construction of a base in Zweisimmen underlines Rega’s commitment to serving peripheral regions and providing the best possible emergency medical assistance by air.
9 December: Rega and Air-Glaciers enter into a new contractual agreement governing the provision of air-rescue services in the Bernese Oberland. In future, Rega’s Operations Centre will coordinate all air rescue missions throughout the region.
11 March: After a minibus accident involving a group of Swiss tourists on Gran Canaria, Rega’s ambulance jets repatriate 11 seriously injured casualties in the course of six flights. One person is killed in the accident and 17 others injured. For this major operation, that
same day, Rega stations a doctor and a flight coordinator on location to provide the best possible assistance.
10 May: More than 4,000 Rega fans take advantage of the Open Day at the helicopter base in Zweisimmen to look behind the scenes of the newly built base in the Simmen valley, which had
commenced operations in November 2013. Besides Rega’s EC 145 and Da Vinci helicopters, a Super Puma and EC 635 are on show.
29 July: A tour bus carrying 17 Swiss tourists crashes near Trondheim. A number of passengers are injured, three of them fatally. The very same evening, a jet takes off for Norway.
On board are two flight physicians, an intensive care nurse and a flight coordinator, whose task it is to look after the patients on location and organise their repatriation.
13 August: Four Rega rescue helicopters are in operation at the same accident site after a train derails near Tiefencastel (GR). Two are immediately dispatched to the accident site to
evacuate the patients, some of them seriously injured, from the steep terrain using a rescue winch. The other two pick up the casualties at an intermediary landing site nearby
and fly them to hospital.
22 August: Rega repatriates a premature baby for the first time in its new own transport incubator.
2 November: Rega flies its 1,000th rescue mission in response to the alarm being raised directly via its emergency app. The automatic transmission of coordinates from the Operations Centre to the cockpit enables patients to be rescued more quickly than ever. To date, the Rega app has been downloaded over 900,000 times.
10 December: The last member of Rega's helicopter fleet, the Da Vinci "HB-ZRS", is equipped with an IFR compatible cockpit.
31 January: On the Vilan in Graubünden, seven ski tourers are buried under an avalanche. Involved in the rescue operation are three Rega helicopters, eight mountain rescuers from the Swiss Alpine Club SAC and an avalanche dog, as well as two additional helicopters. Three people are found dead; the other four are recovered suffering from serious injuries and are flown to hospital.
26 February: On its approach flight to the Erstfeld helicopter base, a Rega helicopter makes a hard landing. At the time of the incident, four Rega employees are on board; three of them are injured and are taken to hospital.
9 April: The decision relating to the future ambulance jet is made: Rega continues to place its trust in the tried-and-tested Challenger family manufactured by Bombardier. Three new Challenger 650 aircraft will go into operation in 2018. The new ambulance jet features state-of-the-art avionics systems and more powerful engines; also the cabin will be quieter than at present, which benefits both patients and crews.
11 May: The EC 145 helicopters at the four lowland bases are equipped with a so-called roll-in stretcher. Its retractable undercarriage allows patients to be transported more comfortably than ever before. It is compatible with the transport incubator and features the world’s first “pack rack” or stretcher bridge – a medical equipment unit for use in aircraft.
21 June: In order to improve its services to patrons, Rega introduces a new, modern patronage management software. One deficit in particular is rectified as a result: while previously only one patronage card could be issued per Family patronage, now all the family members will have their own card.
13 July: Rega tests an instrument flight route over the Julier Pass, from the Engadin to the Cantonal Hospital in Chur. Measurement devices in the helicopter record the exact position data at each point of the test flight to check the precision of the autopilot. In future, Rega aims to fly patients via this IFR route, which is part of the so-called Low Flight Network, even when visibility is poor.
30 September: The lasting fine weather results in a busy summer for Rega: between June and September, the crews at the 12 helicopter bases are called out on over 3,600 missions.
30 November: Rega installs its own meteorological station on top of the Inselspital in Berne. It is part of a network of measuring stations and webcams that in future will deliver precise, constantly updated flying weather data – a prerequisite for Rega pilots to be able to fly according to instrument flight rules.
1 December: Rega signs a contract with Italian manufacturer AgustaWestland for the purchase of three new all-weather helicopters of the type AW169-FIPS. These twin-engine rescue helicopters, which are fitted with an anti-icing system, will go into operation in 2021 and partially replace the current fleet. With the purchase of the AW169-FIPS helicopters, Rega is a major step closer to its vision of being able to perform air rescues in all weathers.
26 April: The last of six Rega weather stations is installed and put into operation at the airport in Bressaucourt, Canton Jura. It features, among other things, a ceilometer to measure the altitude of clouds and sensors that can detect the type of precipitation and visibility. The weather station is part of the new countrywide network of measuring stations and webcams that continually deliver current flight weather data to Rega pilots – a prerequisite for flying according to Instrument Flight Rules.
31 August: The Rega fleet welcomes a new member: an Airbus Helicopters H125 helicopter is flown from the works in the south of France to Switzerland. As from spring 2017, “HB-ZRJ” will be principally used to train up-and-coming Rega pilots in performing mountain and external load flights.
30 September: Over the summer months, not only are Rega’s helicopter crews constantly in the air, but more telephone calls than usual are received requesting assistance from abroad. Every day, up to two dozen people are provided with advice by Rega’s medical consultants. Between June and September, more than 500 seriously ill or injured travellers need to be flown home on board a Rega jet or scheduled aircraft.
29 October: Rega hosts the 2nd Central European Air Rescue Symposium in St. Gallen. The event focuses on specialist medical presentations relating to air rescue, such as “Surgical measures at the accident site” or “Blood products and laboratory analyses in the helicopter”, as well as the exchange between experts about medical equipment and case studies.
9 December: In Meiringen, Rega signs a contract to purchase six new rescue helicopters of the type, Airbus Helicopters H145, the successor model of the EC 145. As from 2018, these spacious new helicopters will replace the EC 145 fleet currently stationed at Rega’s lowland bases.
14 December: The first of the three new Challenger 650 ambulance jets has fledged. It is flown as a “green aircraft” – with a fully functional cockpit and flyable, but without the cabin interior or livery – from the aircraft works of manufacturer Bombardier in Montreal to Peterborough, near Toronto, where it will be fitted with its new interior.
19 December: Rega transports its first patient on an instrument flight route of the Low Flight Network (LFN) over the Gotthard. This network of instrument flight routes is based on satellite navigation and enables helicopters to fly according to Instrument Flight Rules even when visibility is poor. Since December 2016, the main LFN routes, north-south and east-west, have been certified for rescue missions during the day. Thus Rega is one step closer to realising its vision of all-weather rescue.