DRF Luftrettung has performed the retrofit of a four-bladed H145 onto the new five-bladed version; and the helicopter has been deployed to the Villingen-Schwenningen station. It will replace the H145 with four rotor blades currently in use there. The retrofit process was developed in co-operation with Airbus Helicopters at its site in Donauwörth, as part of this first conversion. It will now serve as a template process for all other retrofits.
“The decision to convert existing type H145 helicopters from our fleet to the five-bladed rotor system enables us to pursue one of our key goals: further improving the options for our crews and consequently also the survival and recovery chances of our patients,” said Dr Peter Huber from the Executive Board at DRF Luftrettung. “Helicopter technology is continually developing, and we also never stand still in our role to help people in an emergency even faster and even better. This is why we are very pleased, together with Airbus Helicopters, to be able to perform this very first upgrade and to now gather our own experiences as the first operator with the newly installed rotor.”
Flying at higher capacity at the same performance level
The new features of the helicopter will now benefit the only night flight station in Baden-Württemberg. The upgraded H145 can fly with a higher capacity at the same performance level in comparison to its predecessor. This enables the crew to better react to spontaneous requirements during emergency missions, because, among other things, they are able to take extra medical staff with them. In addition, the fifth rotor blade means the helicopter flies more smoothly, making it more comfortable for patients. On top of the rotor blades and the rotor pylon, other helicopter parts will be exchanged or renewed as part of the conversion, leading to additional improvements. These include modifying the main transmission, exchanging batteries and software updates.
All DRF Luftrettung locations which use an H145 will benefit from the advantages these changes provide: within the next three years, the air rescue organization plans to convert all its helicopters of this type from four to five rotor blades. The technical work this entails will take place in the DRF Luftrettung’s own hangar in its Operation Center at Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden Airport. The organization will also offer the retrofit for the H145 to external clients in future, too.
DRF Luftrettung took over its first H145 helicopter with a five-blade rotor in December 2020 as a new machine from Airbus Helicopters. It was the first of its kind to be starting out on air rescue missions in the German-speaking area in the Stuttgart region as from March 2021 as ‘Christoph 51’. Last year, DRF Luftrettung performed 662 Covid-19 missions, with 330 patients transported by air.