Rotorcraft Report: Leading Canadian EMS Operator Eyes AW139 Fleet

By Staff Writer | October 1, 2008
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The operator, Ornge, has flown some of its Sikorsky Aircraft S-76s for more than 30 years and has decided to retire them and buy 10 AgustaWestland AW139s.

The company only runs eight of the aircraft in its current fleet because age and/or maintenance issues prevent the others from flying.


Canadian Helicopters Ltd owns Ornge’s lot of Sikorskys under an exclusive contract that expires in April 2009. However, Ornge extended its relationship with Canadian Helicopters for three years, with an option to add two year, but has decided to buy its rotorcraft instead of leasing from them. Canadian Helicopters will still provide the company with flight operations, maintenance and related support of the fleet.

Operating seven emergency medical service bases around Ontario, many of which are staffed 24/7 and available to help save more than 12.6 million people (which, according to Statistics Canada is the largest population among Canada 10 provinces and three territories), Ornge needed something that flies fast and far.

It employs more than 300 paramedics, nurses, physicians, educators and researcher who perform about 18,000 admissions annually and cover nearly 11% of Canada’s total land area. Ornge provides skilled, trained medical crews who care for the patients from the rescue until delivery. It is also responsible for all operations including the contracting of flight service providers, medical oversight of all flight paramedics and dispatch and authorizing air and land ambulance transfers between hospitals.

The medium twin AW139 is operational with several search and rescue operators, including the Spanish Marine Safety Agency and the U.K. Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

A key feature is a cabin that can accommodate up to 15 survivors and large sliding doors for easy access both on the ground and during hoisting operations. AgustaWestland is working to certify the AW139 with a maximum gross weight of 6,800 kg (approximately 15,000 lb). The increased MGW option has been developed as a kit that will be available on all new-production aircraft as well as for helicopters already in service with no airframe modifications. EASA certification of MGW increase is expected by the end of 2008 with FAA certification soon after.

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