Canada: AW139 activities during the pandemic

09 June 2020

During the spread of Covid-19, Leonardo has seen operators of its aircraft adapt, react and overcome the challenges posed by the pandemic across geographies. Air ambulance operators Ornge and STARS have managed to continue conducting life-saving missions across Canada throughout the emergency.

Both of these healthcare organisations have shared with Leonardo how they were adapting to the ‘new normal’ and how the Leonardo AW139 helicopter has been supporting their patient transportation missions during these difficult times.

The AW139 is an ideal EMS platform with its spacious and configurable cabin which can accommodate up to 15 people.

Ornge is a vital lifeline to the people of Ontario and its AW139 fleet, comprising of a dozen helicopters alongside aircraft and land ambulances, performs duties from one of 12 bases across the province. 

“Like every healthcare organisation, the health and safety of Ornge staff and patients is our top priority. Ornge staff have adapted to the pandemic and helped implement a number of innovative solutions” said Joshua McNamara, Public Relations Officer at Ornge.

McNamara commented: “The AW139 is a state of the art aircraft allowing Ornge to access patients in remote locations. Additionally, the AW139 travels faster and allows our crews to transport patients safely due to state of the art navigation and on board technology. The range, speed, and versatility of the aircraft allow us to respond to a variety of types of patient transports, which is critical as we respond to Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 patients across the province.”

On how Leonardo has provided support to Ornge during this difficult time, McNamara shared: “Leonardo has provided Ornge with instruction for approved methods of disinfection in the cockpit and cabin for the AW139”. The Company remains supportive and responsive and continues to provide seamless support for maintenance activities since the onset of Covid-19.  “We’re also grateful that, as the world faces a strain on the supply chain due to numerous requests and organisational shutdowns, Leonardo's supply chain remains uninterrupted and Ornge continues to receive the necessary parts to maintain our aircraft.”

STARS serves Western Canada, catering to remote areas and communities as well as highways and passenger transportation. The provinces’ STARS operates in includes Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.

Within the STARS fleet portfolio are three AW139s, alongside other aircraft, which enable the air ambulance operator to operate 24/7, a vital service to the people it serves.

Mike Haska, Director of Marketing and Communications at STARS, shared how the air ambulance operator has managed under the new circumstances “Our team has adapted very well to the challenges posed by Covid-19. We have undertaken significant efforts to develop and train crews on enhanced procedures and secure supplies of critical equipment to protect our crews.” Haska said: “The AW139 is a modern and capable helicopter for EMS operations. We continue to see steady mission volumes across our bases so ensuring we are ready to respond to patients in need, whether their medical circumstances involve Covid-19 or not, is crucial.”

As operators like STARS and Ornge continue to meet the threat of Covid-19 head-on, Leonardo plays a key role in the work of the air ambulance services and the crucial role they play in transporting people by providing and supporting helicopters which undertake life-saving missions around the world, day after day.


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