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Monroe County acquires three Leonardo AW139s for HEMS operations

By Jen Nevans | October 23, 2023

Estimated reading time 4 minutes, 6 seconds.

Monroe County, Florida, is turning to the Leonardo AW139 medium twin-engine helicopter for air ambulance support across the Florida Keys. The county recently acquired three AW139s, expected to be delivered in late 2024 to early 2025.

Monroe County recently acquired three Leonardo AW139s, expected to be delivered in late 2024 to early 2025. Leonardo Photo

Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay said in selecting the AW139s, the county was looking for a new, manufacturer supported aircraft to replace its aging fleet of Sikorsky S-76s which will eventually be sold.

“The goal was an aircraft that would increase operating cost efficiency and reduce downtime due to unscheduled maintenance,” Ramsay said. “The AW139 is the only aircraft available that will meet Trauma Star’s mission profile, able to fly the distance, carry our payloads, and utilize our current landing zones.”

As a joint effort between Monroe County Fire Rescue and Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, Trauma Star will operate the aircraft for air ambulance service across the Florida Keys. Mike Rice, chief of  Monroe County Sheriff’s Department’s Bureau of Administration, told Vertical two aircraft will be housed at the Sheriff’s hangar in Marathon, Florida, while the third will be operated out of Key West.

The aircraft will be delivered from Leonardo’s FAA-certified part 21 production facility in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and will be completed by Leonardo. Rice said the aircraft will be able to accommodate two patients and will be configured with the standard equipment typically found in advanced life support ambulances, including blood on board.

“We are honored to begin our long-term partnership with Monroe County, and we are confident that the AW139 will provide Trauma Star with the capabilities they need to safely and effectively rescue and transport patients in Southern Florida,” said Clyde Woltman, CEO of Leonardo Helicopters U.S.

Maintenance will be carried out at the Marathon hangar, where the team of mechanics handle all maintenance for the program.  

Trauma Star provides air medical transport for critically injured individuals either by natural causes, or by other causes such motor vehicle accidents. The helicopter fleet provides a critical link for emergency medical services on the island chain, which is isolated from the mainland by distance and a single busy highway. Rice said its fleet carried out 1,155 calls for service last year and is on track to do the same this year.

The AW139 features state-of-the-art avionics with advanced navigation and collision avoidance systems to enhance situational awareness and reduce pilots’ workload. The aircraft boasts a maximum range of 1,187 kilometers (641 nautical miles), endurance of five hours and 40 minutes, and maximum cruising speed of 306 kilometers per hour (165 knots).

More than 1,300 AW139 units have been sold to more than 280 customers in 90 countries around the world. Nearly 400 AW139s are used for emergency and disaster relief operations globally, accumulating over 900,000 flight hours.

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