Airbus Helicopters has delivered the first of two H215s (formerly designated AS332L1e) to the Finnish Border Guard, the company announced on March 2 at the Heli Expo trade show in Louisville, Kentucky. The first helicopter arrived in Finland on February 28 following a training session at the Airbus Helicopters headquarters in Marignane, France. The second is set to arrive upon completion of a second training session in April. More than 140 flight hours will be performed during the training flights.
The Finnish Border Guard already operates three older model AS332 Super Pumas and has signed a Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) HCare contract to retrofit them to the new H215 multirole configuration. The first of these is already in France going through the upgrade. The H215s will be used to perform border security and maritime search and rescue (SAR) duties from bases in Helsinki and Turku. The Air Patrol Squadron of the Finnish Boarder Guard carries out more than 4,000 flight hours annually, 1,400 of which are in their Super Pumas.
“Finland is the eighth largest country in the European Union but the most sparsely populated, with large sea areas and forest terrains and, due the northern location, very challenging weather conditions for SAR operations,” said colonel Antti Pesari at the Finnish Boarder Guard. “The H215’s avionics and autopilot combined with its capability to provide excellent performance in day or night operations are the reason why we are excited to have it join our fleet.” The H215s are replacing three Agusta-Bell 412s, which will be withdrawn from service and put up for sale. Alan Warnes