Leonardo has announced further growth in presence of the AW139 intermediate twin engine helicopter in Australia at Avalon, with orders for a total of six aircraft by three different prime operators: Babcock Australasia (Babcock), RACQ CQ Rescue (CQ Rescue) and StarFlight Australia. All six aircraft will be delivered from Leonardo’s Vergiate final assembly line facility in Italy during 2024.
The two AW139 platforms ordered by Babcock will carry out a range of HEMS, Search and Rescue and Inter-Hospital Patient Transport missions on behalf of an undisclosed client. The AW139 platforms will be delivered in 2024 and will commence service in the second half of the year, following dedicated mission customisation performed locally. The new aircraft will feature a wide range of tailored equipment including: 4-axis DAFCS (Digital Automatic Flight Control System) autopilot enhanced with Hover Mode; brand new Avionic Phase 8; TCAS II (Traffic Collision Avoidance System); searchlight; camera; wire cutter; and rescue hoist, among others. This new order will bring the total Babcock AW139 fleet to nine, as they already operate seven AW139s in Australia on behalf of Air Ambulance Victoria and RACQ CapRescue. Babcock’s Managing Director Aviation & Critical Services Peter Newington said expanding Babcock’s fleet of AW139 helicopters will bring enhanced capability across its contracts. “The AW139 aircraft provides increased speed range and operational capability which is essential for the vast distance and challenging terrains across Australia.”
The two AW139 platforms ordered by CQ Rescue will be used in the Mackay region of Central Queensland to perform both on-shore and off-shore EMS/SAR missions day and night and in most weather conditions. The aircraft will feature the latest in product enhancement, technology and mission capability such as advanced avionics including the latest night vision goggle capability, search and weather radar and the latest in communications to support CQ Rescue’s extensive mission requirements. Thanks to the new AW139s, CQ Rescue will fly twice as far and with a 30% increase in mission speed compared to the previous helicopters, reaching remote and rural communities faster than ever before. The AW139s are expected to be delivered in the second quarter 2024 and will enter service prior to the end of year. The CEO of CQ Rescue, Tim Healee, expresses: “The AW139 is one of the most reliable platforms in the industry. The aeromedical service we deliver and type of missions we complete are unique, being very time consuming and over long distances. The AW139s will deliver enormous benefits to our service including new generation avionics, superior performance, proven technology, and exceptional safety features.” He also added: “This incredible acquisition of two state-of-the-art aircraft is only possible because of the generous support we receive from our community, our corporate supporters and the Queensland Government”.
StarFlight Australia’s order consists of two AW139s that will be operated in Queensland and other parts of Australia, carrying out EMS/SAR missions in both on shore and off shore capacities. The new aircraft featuring all the latest avionics technology, patient care and search and rescue capability are expected to be delivered in late 2024 and will enter service following local inclusions and modifications required for the mission sector. This new order will bring the total of AW139s operated by the StarFlight and LifeFlight groups to 15, nine of which are dedicated to EMS/SAR missions. StarFlight Australia CEO and Director, Ashley van de Velde, says: “StarFlight Australia is pleased to have finalised the purchase of two new AW139 helicopters which will be utilised for future work. We already operate a number of these aircraft in our fleet and are constantly impressed with their reliability, quality, and serviceability. The features, technology, size, and all- round advanced capabilities [that] the AW139s offer, make these aircraft ideal for our requirements. Their versatility and readiness for various configurations also aid us in delivering tailor-made aviation solutions to our clients.”
With more than 1,130 units in service for over 280 customers in around 90 nations, and over 3.6 million flight hours logged to date since its certification in 2004, the AW139 has also proven extremely successful for rescue and emergency missions. The AW139 delivers outstanding capabilities, technology, and safety to meet stringent requirements from operators for tasks in harsh conditions to maximize effectiveness. This type features state-of-the-art avionics with advanced navigation and collision avoidance systems to enhance situational awareness and reduce pilots’ workload, unmatched speed, power margins, and overall performance; the widest cabin in its category featuring high modularity for rapid reconfiguration; a unique 60+ min run-dry capable main gear box for enhanced reliability and safety; and up to 1000 certified kits.