A Leonardo A109S air medical helicopter crashed on Dec. 16 in adverse weather in a mountainous region near Porto, Portugal, the country's second biggest city, after delivering a 76-year-old cardiac patient to the Santo António Hospital there, according to the Portuguese National Institute of Medical Emergency (INEM).
The crash killed four, including the two pilots, a doctor, and a nurse on board. At the time of the crash, the helicopter was returning to its base in Macedo de Cavaleiros in the Bragança district.
The A109S, operated by U.K.-based Babcock International Group PLC, had flown 16,370 EMS missions without incident since 1997, INEM said. Babcock is a helicopter EMS operator in the U.K., Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Sweden, Finland, and Australia.
INEM said that its four light and medium helicopters have provided EMS around the clock from bases in Macedo de Cavaleiros and Évora, Santa Comba Dão, and Loulé.
Earlier this year, the International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST) said that helicopter EMS (HEMS) providers were the most likely to follow IHST safety recommendations, including the provision of wire strike prevention, health and usage monitoring, and safety management systems. Ranked second to the HEMS sector in the adoption of IHST safety recommendations was the law enforcement sector, followed by offshore/oil, and firefighting.