Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) is big business. FINN talks to Ralph Setz, Airbus Helicopters, about what makes a good HEMS helicopter, the trends in this market and what’s new with the H160.

Setz said: “[HEMS] is the strongest position we have in any segment. We have about 2,500 helicopters operating dedicated to HEMS, saving lives around the world.”

He said these are mostly in Europe and the US, but added: “Many countries in Asia and Latin America are not yet developed. Of course, we are also targeting this new market.”

Serving the HEMS market

On what operators look for in a HEMS helicopter, Setz said:  “HEMS is a challenging environment. You need to land anywhere for any primary mission, you learn to land on the highway, on the street, in the village. I was a HEMS pilot myself – it’s a difficult job. On the other side you have the air ambulance mission, meaning transport from one hospital to the other. For both, you look for a multitude of benefits.

“First, I would say, is the performance… especially in Europe – the helicopters need to operate under a ‘performance class one scenario’ [meaning] in case of engine failure, they are 100% safe to operate.”

“You need a very powerful helicopter,” he said. “You want to have the capability of the space together with the comfort. When you transport your patient, when you have your doctors working on your patient, you want to have a low-vibration and low-noise environment.”

Further, he said: “The altitude of the helicopter must be smooth and, of course, you want to have a helicopter that is available. The helicopter is often alone at the hospital, so you must have high availability – the reliability must be there.”

Watch the video as Setz outlines the capabilities of the H145 and the H160 – the latter is due to enter service in 2020.

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