New SAR EC225 Enters Service in Spain

A new Airbus Helicopters EC225 has entered service in Spain to provide rescue services, replacing a Sikorsky S-61N known as the Helimer Galicia, which had been used for rescue services for over 20 years at the airport in La Coruña. Spain’s Minister of Public Works, Ana Pastor, officially presented the EC-225 – Helimer 401’– during a ceremony on February 23.

The EC225, operated by INAER, has an operational range of 220 nautical miles and a 21-passenger capacity. It has a five-person crew, can reach a cruising altitude of 20,000ft and a cruising speed of 262klm/h, with a total in-flight range of over five hours.

Although the aircraft was transferred to the Rescue Base in La Coruña on August 7 last year, there then followed six months of training in order for the pilots and ground crew to train and adapt to the new helicopter as part of a gradual working-up process to the aircraft’s regular operations. The helicopter finally became fully operational as from February 12 this year.

During this transition period, the Sikorsky S-61 continued to operate from La Coruña and will still provide maritime rescue services as necessary as a back-up unit for the fleet to cover occasions of inoperability of other aircraft due to maintenance work and other causes.

Over the past year, Maritime Rescue Teams in Galicia have provided assistance to 783 people in 484 maritime emergencies. The Minister also highlighted Spain’s maritime rescue work throughout the entire country, which covers over 8,000km of coastline and an area of 1,500,000 km2.

With this new helicopter providing better performance and equipped with the latest rescue technology, Spain’s maritime security and rescue agency,SASEMAR, hopes to improve rescue services in one of the most demanding regions in terms of maritime safety, with a high traffic volume of ships of all types and adverse meteorological conditions for navigation. Alan Warnes