In a remarkable milestone for both ADAC Luftrettung and Airbus Helicopters, the 1,500th Airbus H135 helicopter was handed over to the non-profit air rescue provider on August 30, 2023, in Donauwörth, Germany. This important event marks over 50 years of partnership between the two organizations and reaffirms their commitment to saving lives with state-of-the-art technology and innovative retrofits.
Frédéric Bruder, the managing director of ADAC Luftrettung gGmbH, expressed his enthusiasm at the ceremony, saying, “With the investment in the latest version of the H135, we are once again increasing the quality of care and flight safety and are also pioneers in Germany with innovative retrofits solving proactively is the core of our mission.”
Stefan Thomé, the managing director of Airbus Helicopters in Germany, also shared his pride in the enduring cooperation: “We are pleased to celebrate another important milestone in the more than 50-year partnership. We are proud of the cooperation and that we support ADAC Luftrettung with our helicopters and services in their important mission: saving lives.”
The new rescue vehicle
The new H135 helicopter, along with another of its kind purchased by ADAC Luftrettung, introduces a groundbreaking feature in the German air rescue landscape. These helicopters are the first in Germany to be equipped with the special “Kokon” interior paneling from partner company HeliAir. This innovative feature allows for the flexible attachment of medical equipment to the walls and ceiling of the ADAC rescue helicopter. Ventilators, defibrillators, patient monitors, and oxygen cylinders can now be strategically placed, ensuring the most efficient treatment of patients during emergency missions.
Additionally, ADAC Luftrettung has integrated the LS400 LED headlight system into these new H135 helicopters. This system includes two fold-out landing and searchlights that can be swivel separately and feature various light modes. This enhancement enables the pilot and a crew member trained in night vision to adapt the lighting to the specific conditions, facilitating safer take-offs and landings during nighttime operations.
The technology available to the crew
In an era where connectivity is paramount, ADAC Luftrettung has installed Flightcell Wi-Fi routers in the cockpit, enabling wireless internet access at 4G/LTE speeds. These routers can connect to multiple cell phone providers simultaneously, ensuring a stable Wi-Fi signal for the crew. This technology empowers the emergency doctor to coordinate early-stage treatment via internet phone and transmit critical patient data to the receiving clinic promptly.
Furthermore, the latest H135 generation helicopters come equipped with standard features and functions that enhance the safety of both patients and crews. The “Cable Cutter” system is designed to prevent entanglement with high-voltage or telephone lines during low-level flight. Sword-shaped “cable deflectors” on headlights, windshield wipers, and skids are intended to push aside or cut any encountered cables before a collision can occur.
These helicopters also boast a glass cockpit for improved navigation visibility and a modern control system with a four-axis autopilot, reducing the pilot’s workload. Two cameras in the rear area enhance the crew’s field of vision, with one on the boom pointing forward and the other on the landing gear pointing backward or down. This additional visibility helps in spotting obstacles, such as poles or traffic signs, to select safe landing sites efficiently.
A historic collaboration
The H135 helicopter has long been the workhorse of German air rescue, with ADAC Luftrettung’s first acquisition dating back to 1996. In 2011, they celebrated the arrival of their 1,000th Airbus Helicopters H135 aircraft. With the addition of these two new H135 helicopters (numbered 1,499 and 1,500), ADAC Luftrettung now boasts a fleet of 39 H135/EC135 aircraft. The new helicopters are scheduled to be stationed at the air rescue stations “Christoph 25” in Siegen and “Christoph 15” in Straubing starting in 2024, while the existing machines of this type will continue their critical missions in Zwickau and Dinkelsbühl.
The reception of the 1,500th H135 helicopter underscores ADAC Luftrettung’s unwavering commitment to advancing air rescue capabilities and enhancing patient care, while also highlighting Airbus Helicopters’ dedication to providing cutting-edge solutions for life-saving missions. Together, they continue to set new standards in the field of emergency medical transportation, ensuring that those in need receive the best care possible, when every second counts.