This week’s FINN Flashback takes a look back at the latest in search and rescue from Leonardo, AW 101.

Sean McElliott, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Leonardo, explained what’s different about the first search and rescue aircraft for the Norwegian Air Force, one of 16 that the company is building for the force.

He said: “The benefit of the AW101 is its long range and endurance, being a multi row aircraft with a very large cabin enables the crew to change from one configuration to the other in mid mission so you can go from a pure search and rescue environment to medical evacuation without having to go back to base to change the configuration from one role to the other.”

“Parking sensors for rotor blades”

New systems on the aircraft included an obstacle proximity LIDAR system which has described as “parking sensors for the rotor blades”. He explained: “If the aircraft was doing an evacuation from a cliff face or confined area, if the blade start to encroach against, say the cliff face or trees, it will give you a warning not dissimilar to what you see in your car.”

The Norwegian is configured to fly as a “flying ambulance” with six people with room for medical stretchers and full medical emergency equipment.

The AW101 can be used for mass evacuation of casualties. Elliott explained: “We have a system where we can align stretchers down the middle of the cabin. One of the requirements was to be able to load 23 people in, as well as a crew of six.”