The Augusta-Westland A109 Helicopter has been used for search and rescue operations across the world for over 20 years. First produced in 1995, the aircraft was quickly adopted by a number of Search and Rescue agencies, as well as Medical evacuation (Medi-vac) services.
The A109 is able to land and refuel on IntSAR hospital ships. This allows for fast transfer of disaster victims who may require urgent medical help and for remote sea rescue operations to be conducted in any ocean area that would be outside the normal distance range of rescue aircraft.
With 2 pilots, the aircraft is capable of flying in adverse weather conditions which allows for search and rescue missions to be conducted generally independent of weather.
The A109 can be fitted with a hoist, allowing the retrieval of victims from the ocean, ships, or from areas of rugged terrain that ground crews may find hard to reach.
It can also be fitted with a cargo hook so that it can assist in aerial fire fighting operations if required.
The aircraft’s generous cabin area allows for a patient to be carried on a stretcher which allows for urgent medical assistance to be provided to a patient whilst airborne.
The A109 can also be configured with ‘club style’ seating, allowing it to be used for VIP transport operations for up to 5 passengers. The aircraft can be fitted with an infrared camera which allows for search and rescue in low light conditions. The footage from this camera can also be sent live via satellite internet to a Command Post allowing rescue operations Co-ordinators to evaluate the ‘ground zero’ of a disaster area in real time and make the appropriate decisions for rescue response.