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When immediate emergency assistance is needed, helicopters are irreplaceable. Airbus offers a range of rotorcraft recognized for speed and reliability, large EMS cabins, low vibration levels, excellent maneuverability, the ability to land anywhere, and low operating costs. From the lightweight single-engine H130, to the twin-engine H135 and H145, to the medium-lift H175, these helicopters have captured nearly two-thirds of the emergency medical services (EMS) market worldwide, serving more than 300 customers.


Light helicopters: Single engine

Airbus’ H125 and H130 are recognized as the single-engine helicopters of reference in EMS missions, particularly in the United States, offering high performance, high availability, excellent visibility, mission flexibility and low operating costs.

Their unobstructed cabins – the benchmark in size among single-engine helicopters – offer open space without partitions, accommodating EMS equipment tailored to customer needs. With wide side-opening doors, the loading/unloading of a stretcher is rapid and simple.

With almost 200 aircraft in service for EMS missions, the versatile and economical H125 is the most popular single engine helicopter in this segment. The H125 transports one stretcher and up to three medical crewmembers and their equipment. Its engine power allows operations in high and hot conditions, as demonstrated by a Himalayan mountain rescue mission performed at 6,900 meters.

With the largest cabin in its class, the H130 has a wide side-loading capability of 2.2 meters, accommodating one stretcher and up to three medical crew members and equipment. The H130 is the only EMS platform in this class to be spacious enough to accommodate two pilots, three crewmembers and one stretcher.

In addition to excellent high and hot performance, the H130 has outstanding visibility, the lowest external sound level in its class, and the safest operation on ground and in flight with a highly efficient main rotor and Fenestron® shrouded tail rotor.

Light helicopters: Twin engine

Airbus Helicopters’ H135 accounts for some 25 percent of all EMS helicopters flying today. For primary EMS missions – meaning rapid interventions – the H135 is the first choice thanks to its versatile cabin design and its safety with 550 units in service worldwide.

The large cabin and excellent payload allow secondary hospital transfer flights. Excellent cockpit visibility, compact external dimensions, high-set main rotor and shrouded tail rotor systems ensure the pilot’s safe operation and take-off/landing at any site.

The H135 is offered with a variety of dedicated EMS interiors, including single-patient, dual-patient or intensive care transport. And the aircraft’s anti-resonance isolation system ensures that patients are given the smoothest possible ride in the quietest cabin in its class.

An innovative concept developed by Airbus Helicopters for its H135 is the Multi-Functional Floor, which eliminates the need for a separate EMS floor thereby saving weight.

The twin-engine H145 enjoys an exceptional EMS heritage thanks to its BK117 and EC145 predecessors. Offering the largest cabin in its class and more payload, the helicopter is perfectly adapted for inter-hospital transfers.

Facilitating access to the H145’s spacious cabin is the helicopter’s high-mounted Fenestron shrouded tail rotor, allowing for safe patient loading through wide sliding doors or the window-equipped rear clamshell doors.

The H145 quickly converts from EMS to other roles thanks to optional equipment such as multipurpose fittings in the cabin. These can be adapted from EMS for other missions such as disaster relief and both mountain and offshore search and rescue.

Enhancements to the H145 include incorporation of the new avionics suite Helionix with a 4-axis autopilot. It is the quietest helicopter in its class.

Medium helicopters

EMS operations in countries with large, sparsely populated areas require helicopters with a high payload and long range. For these missions, the AS365 N3, the wide-body H155, and the H175 offer the perfect match between a small footprint for helipads, a large cabin, and a smooth ride at high speeds.

The AS365 N3 and the H155, part of the Dauphin family, offer outstanding cabin space that boosts patient care and accommodates bulky medical equipment. Advanced human machine interface, state-of-the-art glass cockpit and unique Airbus Helicopters dual digital 4-axis autopilot maximize the pilot’s effectiveness for demanding missions, even in the most challenging environments.

Airbus Helicopters’ new-generation H175 offers high-end capability for EMS flights as well as intensive care transport and medical evacuation, thanks to its large cabin size, airborne endurance, range and useful load.

Worldwide, there are about 50 medium twin-engine Airbus Helicopters in service for EMS.

Heavy helicopters

For niche operators who require the most rugged option available, the Super Puma family (H215 and H225) can be equipped with six stretchers for civilian EMS duties and up to 11 stretchers in its military version for casualty evacuation. It is also proposed in a Helicopter Intensive Care Medical Service (HICAMS) configuration.

Private and public organizations rely on this workhorse for their operations over land and offshore in the harshest weather conditions, including search and rescue missions and disaster relief.



EMS in North America

Of the 2,000 helicopters in service worldwide for EMS Missions, around 1,100 of them are in North America.

In the United States, medical services use single- and twin-engine helicopters. Operators of the H125, H130, H135, H145, AS365, and H155 range from the country’s largest air medical transportation providers to regional and local hospitals.

The U.S. Army utilizes the H145 in its UH-72A Lakota light utility helicopter for MEDEVAC (medical evacuation) missions.

EMS in Europe

Europe is the world’s second-largest EMS market, representing some 600 out of 2,000 helicopters in service worldwide for EMS missions.

Helicopters of the H135 family add up to 50% of the European fleet, while the H145 family is represented with 20%. The success of these helicopters is continued with the two latest versions of both models, which entered the market in 2014 and already operate successfully in Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Scotland, Norway, Finland and Sweden.

In Germany alone, there are 76 HEMS bases that perform more than 100,000 missions per year.

EMS in China

Another example of a new EMS services start-up with Airbus Helicopters’ H135 is China’s air ambulance operations. The H135 version is the country’s first rotorcraft outfitted for dedicated emergency medical missions.

This helicopter type is used in services provided by the 999 Emergency Rescue Center (999 Center) – a Beijing Red Cross Foundation subsidiary.

To ensure a smooth and successful initiation of the country’s new EMS operations, Airbus Helicopters trained and organized relationships for the Chinese customer in coordination with leading European air rescue operators.

EMS worldwide

Airbus Helicopters is invested in offering the best-suited solutions to expand HEMS missions around the globe.

For example, in late 2015, a Malaysian operator received the country's very first H135, fully outfitted for emergency medical missions.