Missions to save human lives

Missions to save human lives

The AW101 of the Canadian Forces is the protagonist of a challenging rescue mission to save the life of a man trapped on an ice floe in northernmost Canada.

A Canadian Forces rescue team embarked on this epic rescue, taking off from its base in Greenwood, Nova Scotia and flying in stages to the tiny community of Resolute, located 800km from the North Pole and one of the coldest inhabited places on the planet.


(AW101 in CH-149 Cormorant configuration for the Canadian Armed Forces)

Coping with temperatures of -45°C, blizzard conditions and high winds, the aircraft successfully completed the rescue of this man kept alive by an aircraft, which dropped supplies to him, until the AW101 arrived on scene.

This story shows how Leonardo’s AW101 is the most valued asset for Arctic SAR.






Leonardo’s product range is designed to meet the most demanding EMS (Emergency Medical Services) and SAR (Search And Rescue) mission requirements.

Operators worldwide are taking advantage of the most comprehensive, state-of-the-art product range (AW119Kx, AW109 Trekker, GrandNew, AW139 and the newly developed platforms such as the AW169 and AW189) for emergency response and air medical transportation missions, which has driven a significant increase in the Division’s global EMS fleet.

Leonardo has the most comprehensive range of advanced Search & Rescue platforms tailored to rescue requirements as the aircraft possess the right combination of speed, range and endurance. Latest generation avionics, with updated navigation aids, anti-icing systems and reduced pilot workload, are transforming the capabilities of helicopters to conduct air rescue missions 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

In the recent years, Leonardo’s Helicopter Division SAR fleet has increased significantly as operators have deployed both the AW139 medium twin helicopter and the AW101 to support a wide variety of missions. With the development of three new products – the AW169, the AW189 and the ground-breaking AW609 tiltrotor – Leonardo is poised to offer an unrivalled product range to support every type of Air Rescue mission.




In recent years, many Countries have developed more integrated healthcare systems, which have led to a significant growth of the use of helicopters in the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Search And Rescue (SAR) missions.

Timing in EMS and SAR missions is critical, and therefore the ability to get to and from the scene of an accident quickly, especially by air, is key in saving time and lives, furthermore in many cases accidents occur in areas that are not easy accessible, therefore helicopters are the optimal solution.

(AW169 in EMS configuration)


There are two key types of EMS missions – primary and secondary. Primary missions typically involve attending the scene of an accident or major incident. Secondary missions include inter-hospital transfers of patients, but also blood and organs.

The approach of operators in Europe and the USA is quite different. European EMS crews tend to include a qualified physician on board, while the US model is more focused on getting the patient to the hospital in the shortest time possible and within the so-called ‘Golden Hour’, which has a recognised effect on survival rates. This difference in approach also influences the way in which helicopters are equipped.


(AW101 in SAR configuration)


The Search and Rescue (SAR) activities overlap with EMS operations and disaster relief. Provision of these services is driving the demand for multi-role aircraft. Modern search and rescue (SAR) helicopters provide an enormous advantage in search and rescue missions thanks to their extreme flexibility, a fundamental characteristic for these types of operation where every second counts.

The goal of SAR is to locate and rescue individuals in distress. That can mean a hiker who falls and is injured on a mountainside, or the rescue of a crew of a trawler taking on water miles off the coast, the recovery of a skier who has an accident on the slopes, the survivor of an urban disaster trapped on-site or people in distress who need humanitarian relief due to events such as floods, earthquakes, hurricanes or plane crashes.

Each area of SAR employs techniques specific to the circumstance, as the number of possible rescue scenarios is huge, such is the helicopter’s versatility in this critical role.

(AW189 in SAR configuration)

Leonardo 10/10/2016