DRF Luftrettung recently modified a third helicopter to be used aboard the Arctic research ice breaker Polarstern. The Airbus BK117C1 received 28 separate modifications that included modernizing the cockpit and installing emergency floats.
“Our maintenance department has a great deal of expertise,” said Jan Berger, DRF’s head of sales. “Our certifications particularly qualify us for modifications like these. Only a few companies in Europe can offer these alterations—especially so quickly.”
Since 2016, DRF has been providing maintenance and modification services for helicopters operated by HeliService that are assigned to the vessel, which is operated by the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), in Bremerhaven, Germany. Polarstern is equipped with a landing platform and hangar that is of sufficient size for maintenance.
The helicopters assigned to the Polarstern are used for reconnaissance missions across the ice, observing wildlife, collecting supplies, and transporting personnel. The Polarstern operates in temperature conditions to -58 degrees F. It recently supplied the Neumayer Station in the Antarctic.