Rega, the Swiss SAR and EMS provider, retrofit and certify its mountain AgustaWestland AW109SP GrandNew helicopter fleet to fly under instrument flight rules (IFR).
Rega Swiss Ambulance AW109SP now with IFR
Rega, December 10, 2014 - Rega has now completed its measures to retrofit and certify its mountain helicopters to fly under instrument flight rules (IFR).
This represents a further key step towards realising Rega’s vision of being able to rescue people in distress no matter what the weather. A new video clip shows the form that this next chapter in the history of Swiss air rescue will take.
Every year, Rega is forced to deny around 600 patients urgently needed medical assistance by air due to poor visibility.
To date, helicopters generally operate under visual flight rules, which means that fog, snow or low cloud can make missions impossible. Rega intends to change this and is doing everything in its power to extend the operational scope of its rescue flights in a decisive manner.
With the AgustaWestland Da Vinci "HB-ZRS", Rega has now equipped the last of its mountain helicopters with an IFR-compatible cockpit.
The completion of this retrofit programme represents a key step towards realising Rega's vision. "Rega want to be able to rescue people whenever and wherever it is needed - no matter what the weather," explains Rega's Chief Helicopter Pilot, Heinz Leibundgut.
Besides upgrading its mountain helicopter fleet, Rega is also investing in training its staff; the aim is for all of the cockpit crews to have completed their IFR training by the end of 2015. The Da Vinci flight simulator, which went into operation in 2013, plays a valuable role in this respect. Rega pilots are able to carry out a substantial part of the required 70 hours of practical training on the flight simulator ‒ irrespective of ongoing missions and with no kerosene consumption or noise emissions.
For Rega's vision to become a reality, the necessary legal provisions must first be put in place. Instrument-based approach flights are currently only possible in a few places. The Swiss Air Force and the air navigation service provider, Skyguide, are actively involved in developing new instrument flight procedures for helicopters and are supporting Rega in this project.