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First AW169 EMS fleet in U.S. in service

November 7, 2019  By Helicopters Staff

Referred to as Flash Flood Alley, Travis County is the number one location in the United States for flash flood rescues. It will now be better served with three AW169 EMS helicopters through STAR Flight. (Photo: Leonardo)

Leonardo on November 5 announced that the first AW169 EMS helicopter fleet in the United States is now in service. Travis County’s three AW169 EMS helicopters assist rescue efforts in south central Texas, an area with more than 1.2 million people that includes Austin.

Leonardo explains that STAR Flight, Travis County’s air ambulance operator, is the only 24/7 helicopter EMS provider in Texas that performs highly specialized rescues including emergency medical transport, still and swift water rescue, search and rescue, high angle rescue, fire suppression/aerial reconnaissance, and law safety assistance.

STAR Flight also transports neonatal, pediatric ICU, and high risk obstetrics medical teams and patients. Travis County’s new fleet of AW169s is equipped with a rescue hoist and 300-gallon Simplex belly tank for fire suppression.

Leonardo explains Travis County presents many geographic challenges for rescue crew – called Flash Flood Alley, it is the number one location in the U.S. for flash flood rescues. With several lakes and rivers, access to patients is often difficult and remote, explains Leonardo, noting why operating a fleet of helicopters is crucial for the region.


Leonardo’s AW169 EMS helicopter can transport up to two patients and five medical personnel plus critical care equipment – with flexible interior layouts that provide 360 degree patient access. Leonardo also notes the AW169 features a full ice protection system available as an option, now under development, alongside the model’s hot and high capability.

Avionics on the AW169 includes a four-axis, dual-duplex digital automatic flight control system and a full night-vision goggle-compatible digital glass cockpit with three 8-inch by 10-inch displays to reduce pilot workload. The AW169 can travel up to 440 nautical miles, cruise at over 160 knots and climb to 14,500 feet.


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