With 13 helicopter bases spread throughout the country and one partner base, Rega provides air rescue services in Switzerland around the clock using its 18 rescue helicopters. On average, it comes to the assistance of 34 people per day. Recently, Rega signed a contract to purchase nine rescue helicopters in a new version of Airbus Helicopters’ H145 helicopter type. Rega is thus modernising and expanding its current lowland fleet with the successor model, which offers various advantages for both patients and crews.
Ensuring seamless operational readiness
The lowland fleet was procured in 2018 and currently comprises seven H145 helicopters in the four-blade configuration. Originally, it was planned to retrofit these with the newly available five-blade rotor. Among other things, this conversion would have led to an increase in the helicopter’s payload. However, the introduction of the upgrade was delayed and the retrofit of the rescue helicopters would have taken longer than originally stated. This in turn would have led to longer downtimes among Rega’s helicopter fleet over a longer period of time. All of Rega’s decisions centred on maintaining its operational readiness for the welfare of its patients. Taking all the factors into account, Rega, together with the manufacturer, decided to replace the lowland fleet instead. By at the same time expanding the lowland fleet to a total of nine helicopters in the five-blade version of the Airbus H145, Rega is ensuring its countrywide 24-hour standby service in the long term. Rega is investing a total of CHF 104 million in the modernisation and expansion of its lowland fleet. This amount also includes the costs of medical equipment, training and spare parts. Rega’s current seven lowland helicopters will be sold.
Increased payload and an improved autopilot
The newly developed five-blade rotor will increase the helicopter’s payload capacity by 150 kilos. In the field of air rescue every kilogram counts, so this is a significant improvement from which both crews and patients will benefit. The optimised rotor system also simplifies the maintenance work for the Rega helicopter mechanics. As a result, the helicopters will have shorter downtimes during maintenance events and will be ready for action again more quickly. In addition, the successor model features a more modern rescue hoist and a new navigation package with ultraprecise satellite navigation, which opens up more possibilities for the crews when out on a mission. Thanks to a failsafe and even more precise autopilot, the safety of missions in poor visibility is further increased. This technology allows Rega crews, for example, to fly missions safely even in foggy conditions and thus help even more people in distress.