Leonardo at the Air Medical Transport Conference in Fort Worth, Texas, announced its expansion in the U.S. emergency medical service (EMS) market with new contracts. Leonardo helicopters in the North American EMS market now totals more than 100 across a fleet of AW119s, AW109s, AW169s and AW139s. Globally, there are more than 650 Leonardo search and rescue and emergency medical service helicopters in over 50 countries.
Contracts announced at AMTC include two further instrument flight rules (IFR) AW119Kxs single engine and one AW169 light intermediate helicopter for Life Link III and one AW169 for Intermountain Life Flight.
Life Link III’s aircraft will deliver emergency medical services to patients in Minnesota and Wisconsin. This operator is the first commercial EMS Part 135 one in the United States to fly single engine, IFR-capable AW119Kx. Leonardo explains the aircraft join their current fleet of 10 AW119Kx VFR (Visual Flight Rules) aircraft. The latest AW119Kx IFR and the AW169 are expected to be delivered in 2022.
Leonardo explains the IFR-capable AW119Kx allows pilots to operate aircraft safely in the challenging weather conditions of this region. It describes the AW119Kx as an ideal entry point for commercial and public service operators who seek this kind of high-level performance in Instrument Meteorological Weather (IMC) conditions, while still keeping single engine economics, in addition to the AW119Kx’s unique, light-twin multiple redundancies of critical systems and cabin space, safety and reliability. Leonardo explains the AW119Kx is the first single engine provided with full IFR capabilities in decades.
The AW169 features a 222 cubic foot cabin, similar in size to models in the intermediate weight category – with flexible interior layouts, allowing with 360-degree patient access essential for critical care. The aircraft also features Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) mode, allowing the cabin to stay powered on even with stopped rotors. Leonardo explains this creates a safe, quiet and comfortable environment that can maintain heat and air conditioning, as needed.
To date, around 360 AW119s and 250 AW169s have been sold to customers across the globe to perform a wide range of roles, including EMS, fire-fighting, law enforcement, passenger transport, offshore transport, training and government/military duties.
“Safety is at the heart of everything we do. The addition of the AW119Kx IFR and AW169 support our transition to utilizing instrument flight rules for patient transports and strengthen our fleet with new state of the air aircraft and enhanced capabilities,” said Greg Thingvold, Vice President of Aviation Operations at Life Link III. “Our new aircraft allows us to continue to respond to the ever-evolving needs of our patients while ensuring the highest margin of safety for our crews and those we serve.”
Life Link III operates ten helicopter bases that include Alexandria, Blaine, Brainerd, Duluth, Hibbing, Rush City, and Willmar in Minnesota, and Marshfield, Rhinelander, and Rice Lake in Wisconsin. The company plans to open its eleventh helicopter base in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota in spring 2022.
“It is especially rewarding when we can help an existing customer add to their fleet with an even more capable aircraft,” said Bill Hunt Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters U.S. “It tells us that our product is servicing their patients with the kind of excellence such a stellar operation demands.”