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Life Link orders IFR-certified AW119

July 9, 2020  By Helicopters Staff

EMS operator Life Link III, based in the upper-midwest United States, has placed an order for one IFR-certified AW119 single engine helicopter with a future option for a second aircraft. The new aircraft will be added to Life Link III’s existing fleet of 10 AW119Kx helicopters delivering in-flight critical care and transporting patients in Minnesota and Wisconsin with more than 21,000 total flight hours amassed.

Delivery of the aircraft from the AW119 final assembly line in Philadelphia is expected in the third quarter of 2021. Life Link III operates eight helicopter bases that include Alexandria, Blaine, Brainerd, Duluth, Hibbing, and Willmar, Minnesota, and Marshfield and Rice Lake, Wisconsin. A new helicopter base is planned for Rush City, Minnesota, in August 2020.

This new contract with Leonardo marks the first sale for the FAA-certified, IFR-capable AW119 in the civil market and for emergency medical service roles. Leonardo states this type is the first single-engine helicopter in decades to fully meet current IFR requirements, allowing pilots to operate the aircraft safely in low visibility and challenging weather conditions, thanks to avionics by Genesys Aerosystems and redundant flight systems.

The IFR-capable AW119 provides what Leonardo describes as a well suited IFR entry point for commercial and public service operators who seek for the highest level of safety and performance while keeping single engine economics. The company also points to the AW119’s light-twin-like multiple redundancies of critical systems and cabin space.


“Our decision to become the first civilian user of the IFR-certified AW119 fully supports our mission of providing safe and effective air medical transport,” said Steve Sterner, CEO of Life Link III. “The advanced avionics and technology on this aircraft elevate our ability to provide life-saving critical care resources to those in need. With high degrees of performance, safety, speed and efficiency, this aircraft is well-suited to meet the needs of our crew members and patients.”

The first AW119 was delivered to Life Link III in early 2014. Life Link III’s new IFR AW119 will feature a special cabin interior with an articulated patient loading system, ensuring full patient body access for two medical professionals on board. Leonardo states its helicopters in the North American EMS market now total more than 113 across a fleet of AW119s, AW109s, AW169s and AW139s.

“We are proud to introduce the IFR-certified variant of the AW119 to the civilian market and to do so with an incredible partner like Life Link III,” said William Hunt, managing director of Leonardo Helicopters in Philadelphia. “This aircraft’s advanced technology and dual flight systems will ensure that our first responders are able to fly safely in challenging weather conditions while providing the same accessible, efficient cabin configuration for patient treatment and transport that the AW119 is known for.”


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