Project Icebird AW169s

Swiss Air-Rescue Rega takes a major step in "Project Icebird" with a contract for three rescue AW169s

AgustaWestland   01 dicembre 2015 10:40

 Leading rescue service operator expands their AgustaWestland helicopter fleet and adds the new generation AW169, marking a milestone in “Project Icebird”

AW169s to be delivered in 2020 with Full Ice Protection System

AW169 to feature a jointly developed customised configuration for emergency medical service/search and rescue

Over 150 AW169s sold worldwide so far, including options and framework contracts

Finmeccanica-AgustaWestland announced today that Swiss Air-Rescue Rega has placed an order for three AW169 light intermediate twin-engine and one GrandNew light twin-engine helicopters which will join the current fleet of a GrandNew and nine single-pilot configured Da Vinci helicopters. The aircraft will perform emergency medical service and search and rescue missions (EMS/SAR) all over Switzerland, from the lowlands to the high mountains of the Alps.

The acquisition of new generation aircraft to meet the future all weather helicopter rescue programme of Rega is valued at CHF 50 million (approximately €46 million). The GrandNew will be delivered to Rega in the autumn of 2016, while the three AW169s are scheduled to be delivered in 2020. These contracts strengthen the long-standing partnership between AgustaWestland and Rega, following decades of successful operations with the A109K2, introduced in 1992, and more recently with the fleet of Da Vinci helicopters which entered service in 2009. As part of the challenging and innovative “Project Icebird”, Rega and AgustaWestland will together set a new benchmark for EMS/SAR operations with the development of the “Helicopter of the Future.


Daniele Romiti, AgustaWestland Chief Executive Officer, said “Project Icebird confirms Rega’s strong confidence in our technology, customisation capabilities and the outstanding performance of the AW169. We look forward to working with them to bring their specialised AW169 into service.”

"With the new rescue helicopter, we will be able to extend our scope of operations and in the future come to the aid of more people in distress than ever before," says Rega CEO, Ernst Kohler.

The AW169s will bring Rega into a new era in terms of technology and mission capability. Rega AW169s will feature a jointly developed, highly-customised EMS/SAR configuration to meet their future all-weather requirements. This will include a Full Ice Protection System (FIPS) for operations in known icing conditions, making the AW169 the lightest helicopter ever built with such a feature, advanced next-generation satellite navigation capabilities, Synthetic Vision System (SVS), Enhanced Vision System (EVS), Selex ES’ Laser Obstacle Avoidance and Monitoring (LOAM) system for enhanced safety and situational awareness.


A versatile, new generation twin-engine light intermediate category helicopter, the AW169 has been designed in response to the growing market demand for an aircraft that delivers high performance, meets all the latest safety standards and has multi-role capabilities. The first all new aircraft in its weight category to enter the market in more than 30 years, the 4.6 tonne AW169 helicopter is certified in accordance with EASA CS-29 / FAR Part 29 latest Amendments. For EMS/SAR missions the AW169 can comfortably accommodate in its large unobstructed cabin up to two stretchers, either longitudinally or transversally, plus medical attendants. The type incorporates several new technology features in the rotor system, engines, avionics, transmission and electric power generation, and distribution systems. The AW169 is designed with inherent ease of maintenance, for reliable and intensive utilisation. A range of support and training solutions have been designed to enhance aircraft availability while reducing costs and increasing safety. More than 150 AW169 helicopters have been ordered by almost 60 customers in over 20 countries around the world to date, including framework contracts and options, for a wide range of applications including air ambulance, executive/corporate transport, law enforcement, offshore transport and utility roles.


The GrandNew features the most advanced avionics of any helicopter in its class while retaining the outstanding performance characteristics of the original Grand. The GrandNew is the first type certified light twin (CS/JAR/FAR 27) to enter service with a new Electronic Flight Information System (EFIS) featuring Synthetic Vision and the first helicopter in this class on the market fully compliant with the latest advanced global positioning system-based navigation requirements for all-weather operations. Orders for nearly 360 Grand and GrandNew helicopters have been placed by almost 220 customers in nearly 40 countries worldwide; to perform many missions including emergency medical service, search and rescue, executive/private transport, law enforcement, harbour pilot shuttle, maritime patrol and water pollution monitoring.


Swiss Air-Rescue Rega was founded on 27 April 1952 and since then has come to the aid of people in distress, providing swift, professional medical assistance by air. In order to do this, they employ state-of-the-art equipment including EMS/SAR helicopters and ambulance jets. In 2014 they performed nearly 15,000 missions including nearly 11,000 helicopter missions from 13 helicopter bases all over Switzerland. Rega is a privately run, non-profit foundation, which operates independently of the State or of financial interests. Rega is also using a Level 3 Flight Training Device / Level B Full Flight Simulator designed and produced by AgustaWestland and certified by the Swiss National Aviation Authority (SFOCA). The simulator allows pilots to receive a complete training and to fully exploit the latest technologies found in the GrandNew cockpit which enhance mission capabilities and safety.



Rega’s “Project Icebird” is intended to lead to the development of an aircraft capable of performing high mountain EMS/SAR operations across Switzerland in any weather conditions, with capabilities that are today utopian for any other rotary-wing aircraft. The development of this all-weather helicopter is an essential part of the Rega vision – “fly everywhere, anytime, in any weather”, which will implement different projects focused on the development of a ground based network and the airborne equipment to allow rescue flights to be undertaken with assured safety in any weather conditions. Rega aborts more than 600 missions per year due to low visibility or adverse weather. “Project Icebird” is aimed at filling this void allowing it to perform rescue missions even in near zero visibility with the aid of next-generation navigation systems and dedicated IFR routes.