Coinciding with the Annual Media Conference, Rega's new Challenger 650 ambulance jet from the Canadian manufacturer, Bombardier, landed today at 11.20 am at Zurich Airport and was greeted with a traditional water salute by the airport fire service. The jet with the registration number HB-JWA is the first of a total of three new ambulance jets that will join the Rega fleet by the end of 2018. For Rega CEO, Ernst Kohler, this represents an investment in the future: "The new Rega jet is one of the most modern civil ambulance aircraft worldwide. We are thus ensuring that in the coming years, too, Rega can continue to come to the aid of its patients all over the world in a reliable and professional manner." Rega will complete this project on time and within the 130 million Swiss franc budget.
Challenger 650: next chapter in the success story
The Challenger 650 is an updated model of Rega's current three Challenger CL-604 jets, which have now been in operation in the service of the Swiss population for 16 years - longer than any other jet fleet in Rega's history. The interior and medical equipment of Rega's ambulance jets are custom-made: a project team comprising Rega pilots, medics and engineers, in collaboration with external specialists, has spent the last four years designing the new cabin fit-out. The modifications draw not only on experience gained with the predecessor model, the CL-604, but also on Rega's knowledge and expertise accumulated in the course of almost 60 years of repatriating seriously ill or injured patients.
Patients benefit from improvements in the cabin and the cockpit
With the Challenger 650, patients will benefit not just from wider, multifunctional stretchers and reduced cabin noise, but also from cutting-edge technology in the cockpit. Thanks to the latest navigation and communication instruments, the pilots are now, for example, permitted to use higher altitude flight routes across the Atlantic. Due to the lower air resistance at higher altitudes, the new jet uses less fuel on these routes, which in turn means fewer refuelling stops on long-distance flights. Urs Nagel, Chief Pilot at Rega, explains: "As a result, particularly with long-haul operations, we will be able to fly our patients home faster and in a more cost-effective manner in future". In addition, a new weather radar increases safety during missions, and an infrared camera makes it possible to fly to airports in worse weather conditions than at present - a great advantage in terms of safety for Rega's jet pilots, who fly to more than 400 different airports in all corners of the globe every year.
Rega organises the repatriation of over 1,200 patients every year
Rega crews bring people who have become seriously ill or injured abroad back to Switzerland with Rega's three own ambulance jets or on board a commercial airline. The medical crew in the Rega jet always comprises at least one flight physician and an intensive care flight nurse. Last year, Rega repatriated 1,249 patients, 901 of them in one of its three ambulance jets. Rega's Operations Centre arranged for 348 patients to be transported on a scheduled flight - for example, accompanied by a Rega flight physician or intensive care flight nurse.
New fleet - new livery
Rega is currently also modernising part of its helicopter fleet: six new Airbus Helicopters H145 helicopters are to replace Rega's EC 145 lowland fleet by mid-2019. They will be joined in 2021 by three AW169-FIPS all-weather rescue helicopters. Rega is also taking this opportunity to update the Rega logo, which is now over 20 years old. The new Challenger 650 ambulance jet with the registration number HB-JWA is the first of Rega's aircraft to receive this new livery.
Review of the Rega year 2017:
Rega came to the aid of on average 29 patients per day
Rega can look back on a busy year: in 2017, the Operations Centre organised a total of 15,958 missions (+5.7 %). Both the rescue helicopters and the ambulance jets were in the air more frequently than in the previous year: the Rega flight coordinators organised 11,774 helicopter missions (+6.5 %) and 886 operations with its own ambulance jets (+3.3 %). With 10,788 patients (+7.1 %) in all, the Rega crews came to the aid of on average 29 people per day.
60,000 new patronages in 2017
Thanks to the support of its patrons, Rega, as a non-profit, privately run foundation, is able to provide nationwide medical assistance by air - without receiving any subsidies from the State. In 2017, Rega once again enjoyed growing support: on 31 December 2017, a total of 3.43 million patrons were recorded on Rega's computer system. This represents an increase of around 60,000 new patronages or 1.8 percent compared to the previous year. Last year, patrons paid 63 percent of the overall costs with their annual contributions and donations. The remaining amount was principally covered by cost bearers, such as insurers, in the form of payments for missions performed on their behalf.
Documents relating to the Media Conference are also available in electronic form at: www.media.rega.ch