The French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) has awarded a contract to Airbus Helicopters to update the avionics suite of the 35 EC145 helicopters operated by the Sécurité Civile, an agency of the French Ministry of Interior that performs search and rescue and medical evacuation services throughout French territory.
As part of work, the aircraft will be equipped with an improved avionics suite that complies with the latest performance based navigation regulations, said the manufacturer.
The retrofit of the 35 aircraft follows a global services solution contract for the Sécurité Civile and Gendarmerie Nationale’s EC145 fleet awarded to Airbus Helicopters at the end of 2015. The aircraft, with this new contract managed by the Military Support Centre France (MSC-F), will be retrofitted over a seven-year period by Airbus Helicopters personnel deployed at the Sécurité Civile base in Nîmes in order to minimise the impact on the operational activity. The mechanical and electrical modifications necessary to integrate functions such as LPV/SBAS guidance, digital maps, and GPS installations have also been optimised to reduce the length of the retrofit operations, said the manufacturer.
Victor Devouge, head of aviation means for the Sécurité Civile, commented: “This retrofit programme ensures that our EC145s will remain capable of meeting the most demanding operational requirements with the highest levels of safety. This fleet is now enjoying an availability rate of around 95 per cent, which is absolutely essential in allowing us to perform our daily operations.”
Established in 1957, the helicopter division of the Sécurité Civile operates a fleet of 35 EC145s on call 24/7 across France for SAR and medevac missions. In 2015 alone they flew over 16,000 flight hours, rescuing 16,000 people.