The SAR Queen, as the AW101 is known, is taking over duties from the Sea King. This move marks a significant milestone as the first base to go live separately from the 330 Squadron’s home, and in support of the test and evaluation unit in Sola. The rescue helicopter’s area of responsibility covers coastal sea lanes where weather conditions are known to be most challenging at times.
The next step is confirming the operational capability and resilience of the support solution. All crews, support staff, tooling, infrastructure, ground-based training aids and spares have been established and tested in readiness for the commencement of operation. With an intense month of flying now planned, the aircraft, crews and supporting units will be put through their paces and will set the tone for operations ahead.
Next base to go live at the end of 2021
The most northerly base, Banak, is anticipated to go live at the end of 2021. This base will be another step forward as the program continues to make significant strides towards the ongoing extension of SAR operations across Norway and the harsh seas it protects, taking the AW101 into a new league of operation. Operating with four to six crew, the AW101 can rescue more than 20 survivors in a single mission whilst simultaneously delivering specialized trauma treatment with a dedicated medical team. The wide cargo door and versatile rear ramp enable recovery of survivors, stretchers and equipment.
Each aircraft is provided with an advanced SAR equipment package, including the multi-mode Osprey Active Electronically Scanned Array surveillance radar system from Leonardo, which provides 360-degree coverage. The large cabin doors and rear ramp provide easy access for personnel, survivors and equipment into the 27-cubic-meter cabin, which has stand-up head room throughout. The AW101 Norway Training Center at Stavanger Sola Airport includes an AW101 full flight simulator which continues to support the training of Norwegian aircrew and is available to other AW101 customers.