Airbus has delivered two H145 helicopters for the New Zealand market configured for emergency medical services.
The official handover event between Airbus Australia Pacific and the New Zealand Helicopter Emergency Medical Services took place in Christchurch on Tuesday.
“I’m proud that Airbus’ helicopters are providing vital medical services and assisting the communities between Christchurch and Dunedin operated by New Zealand Helicopter Emergency Services,” Airbus Australia Pacific managing director Andrew Mathewson said in a statement.
“A key design factor of the H145 helicopter is to be able to configure the helicopter to provide medical and rescue operations for specialised emergency services.”
New Zealand health minister David Clark, who was present at the official handover ceremony, said the two helicopters would begin service on Wednesday, with one based in Christchurch and the other in Dunedin.
“They perform pre-hospital retrieval and inter-hospital transfer duties for medical and injury services across the Southern region,” Clark said in a statement. “That spans the entire South Island as well as Stewart Island, the Chatham Islands and the Auckland Islands.”
“These air ambulances will provide rapid access to specialised health services, which is especially valuable for people in rural and remote communities.
“They help to ensure fair access to health services by all New Zealanders, no matter where they live and no matter who they are.”
The H145 helicopter – previously known as the EC145 – features a Fenestron shrouded tail rotor and twin Safran Helicopter Arrius 2E engines.
The aircraft, which can seat up to nine passengers, had a maximum range of 352nm, a maximum cruise speed of 129kts and a maximum endurance of three hours and 36 minutes, according to figures from the Airbus website.
It was first certified by European regulators in April 2014 and the US Federal Aviation Administration in October 2014. Military certification followed in May 2015, with German special forces the launch customer for the military variant designated as the H145M.
Airbus said there were about 41 H145 family helicopters based in New Zealand, with the aircraft used for aeromedical, search-and-rescue, utility and business aviation purposes.
The first H145 delivered in this part of the world was in April 2015 to a New Zealand-based customer.
The global H145 fleet stood at about 1,400.
Airbus Australia Pacific said in March it had put forward the H145M for the Commonwealth’s request for information (RFI) for Army’s Project LAND 2097 Phase 4 light deployable special forces support helicopter.
Under the project, the Army requires at least 16 helicopters for urban special forces operations and that can be deployed rapidly via Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) C-17A transports. The new helicopter will complement the larger machines currently operated by the Army’s 6 Aviation Regiment (6Avn) at Holsworthy in Sydney, which is currently transitioning from the S-70A-9 Black Hawk to the Airbus MRH90 Taipan.