The helicopter group of the Sécurité Civile, France’s emergency preparedness organization, has logged 200,000 hours of operation with the Arriel 1E2 turboshafts that power its Eurocopter EC145s. The group has taken delivery of 34 EC145s since 2002.
A Eurocopter EC 145 operated by France’s emergency preparedness organization, Sécurité Civile, crashed on April 25 on the French island of Corsica, killing all five occupants–both flight crewmembers, one doctor, one young mother and the baby she had given birth to in flight. The twin-turbine helicopter was flying above rugged terrain in bad weather.
The Direction de la Défense et de la Sécurité Civile (DDSC) of Marseilles, France, has selected StandardAero to provide PW100 and PT6 engine maintenance services. The total contract value for the first six years is expected to be approximately $20 million. A six-year contract extension is possible.
Quietly making its debut at this summer’s Paris Air Show was Eurocopter’s long-awaited EC 145. Essentially a stretched, beefed-up version of the hot-selling BK117 (in this case, the C-1 variant of the helicopter that’s come to be the darling of the aeromedical transport market), the EC 145 can seat as many as 10 passengers and crew.
The French Sécurité Civile (the state rescue arm) no longer has a defined entry-into-service schedule for its Eurocopter EC 145 twin-turbine helicopters. It has officially taken delivery of the first three of 32 ordered aircraft (a $150 million contract) during the last six months, two years after the originally planned date.
Growing interest from helicopter operators wanting to use night-vision goggles (NVGs) is spurring demand for better training as well. Feedback from long-time NVG users demonstrated that they improve safety, but lessons from the field also highlight the need to use the technology with caution.
Since EASA certified the first night-vision image system on a civil helicopter (see AIN, September 2007), several European operators have expressed interest in or have started to adopt night-vision goggles (NVGs). Eurocopter reports it has begun testing for a German operator. No doubt, newcomers will draw from the experiences of two major European rescue operators–Sécurité Civile and Rega.
Some two years after the Eurocopter EC 145 entered service, it seems customers have forgotten the problems that delayed the program and caused early operational difficulties. Instead, European helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) providers focus on the positive: they say they like the spacious cabin, significant payload, low noise and the extensive certified equipment.
A controversy is flaring at the French fireguard about the use of converted Bombardier Dash 8Q-400 turboprops as heavy waterbombers. Pilots deem the aircraft unsuited to their needs and insist that using it has negative implications for safety. The Ministry of the Interior, which ordered two of the aircraft in 2004, has just reached an agreement with the pilots.