Sky rescue - the world’s best search and rescue helicopters

Modern search and rescue (SAR) helicopters such as the S-92, AW101 and S-70i provide an enormous advantage in search and rescue missions where every second counts. Airforce-technology.com lists the best SAR helicopters based on range, flexibility, sate of the art equipment and capacity.


Aw189 search and rescue helicopter

S-92 SAR Helicopter

The S-92 SAR helicopter is a highly versatile all-weather helicopter produced by Sikorsky Aircraft. The S-92's cockpit integrates an Automatic Flight Control System (AFCS) including weather radar, thermal imagers and other search sensors including an auto-hover capability which allows the helicopter to fly to a geographic waypoint. The S-92 SAR version accommodates 10 passengers on side facing seats, 21-man life rafts, and emergency flotation system.

The spacious cabin of the S-92 accommodates SAR equipment and systems such as forward looking infrared radar (FLIR) operator console, digital map, optional auxiliary fuel tanks, dual rescue hoist with spot light, one or two triple NATO-standard litter kits, wire strike protection and cargo hook.

The cabin can be easily accessed by right-side sliding door and 2.13m wide rear ramp. The helicopter can rescue two survivors at a range of 380km and ten at 334km when flying on standard fuel.

AW101 SAR Helicopter

The AgustaWestland AW101 has a long flight range of over 1,300km and can accommodate 30 plus survivors, 16 stretcher patients or a payload of 5,000kg.



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The AW101, designated as CH-149 Cormorant, serves as a dedicated SAR helicopter for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). The helicopter was also been selected to meet the requirements of Norwegian All Weather SAR Helicopter (NAWSARH) in December 2013.

The helicopter can integrate search/weather radar, Electro-Optics system, large rear ramp and sliding door, electric rescue hoists and hover trim controller, fast roping/abseiling kit, search light and loud speaker, cargo hook, emergency flotation gear and two 14-man life rafts.

S-70i Search and Rescue Helicopter

Derived from Black Hawk helicopter, the S-70i SAR is specifically designed to meet the requirements of challenging SAR missions.

The state-of-the-art cockpit of the S-70i SAR is equipped with dual automatic flight control system integrating fully-conjugated SAR modes. The helicopter incorporates FLIR, SAR direction finder, underwater beacon and external electric rescue hoist.

The helicopter can be fitted with Nightsun search light, colour weather radar, personnel locator system, emergency locator transmitter and distance measuring equipment. It can fly on a SAR mission within a radius of about 250km for nearly three hours.



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S-76D SAR Helicopter

The new S-76D SAR helicopter is designed to cater to the demands of current SAR operating paradigm. The helicopter features SAR coupled autopilot and an observer's station which displays the output from the day-night imaging system for a scene manager or SAR crew member.

The S-76D can be fitted with FLIR, charge-coupled device (CCD) cameras, multi-sensor imaging devices, weather radar, SX5 or SX16 searchlights, rescue hoists, rappelling and/or fast rope system, and auxiliary fuel tanks. The sliding cabin doors and rappelling or fast roping kits ensure rapid recovery by tactical teams.

The large flexible cabin of the S-76D allows seating for up to 12 people and support equipment. The helicopter offers an endurance of up to four hours when flying on standard fuel.

AW189 SAR Helicopter

The AW189 is a new helicopter being configured to fulfil the requirements of present and future long range, high endurance SAR missions. The helicopter has been used by the UK Department for Transport to execute SAR missions for 10 years.



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The unmatched combination of range and payload offered by the AW189 suites long range SAR missions. The unobstructed cabin houses rescue crew, stretchers and mission consoles to perform SAR duties. The helicopter can carry one or two pilots and 16 to 18 passengers.

The AW189 SAR helicopter offers seating for eight survivors and integrates multiple stretchers, FLIR/TV, steerable search light, dual rescue hoist, Honeywell mapping system and multiple communication systems. The helicopter has a maximum range of 370km when carrying 12 passengers.

EC225 Super Puma Helicopter

The EC225 Super Puma helicopter from Airbus Helicopters is configured as an all weather high capacity SAR helicopter.

The helicopter is integrated with sensors, inertia reference system, FLIR and radar systems for all-weather SAR capability. The unique features such as <1m hover accuracy, fully automatic changeover to hover and automatic fly-away ensure reliability during complex missions.

The EC225 configured for SAR can house six seats and includes an option for a medical wall with up to three stretchers. It carries two pilots, an operator for console and winch, a paramedic rescue diver and an attendant. The helicopter, when fitted with standard and central tanks plus pod, offers a maximum range of 1,135km and endurance of 5 hours and 36 minutes.

AW139 SAR Helicopter



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The high cruise speed and payload capacity of the AW139 together with superior OEI capability ensure mission success even in the harshest environments.

The SAR helicopter integrates search/weather radar, FLIR / low light television (LLTV) system, four bag floatation system, two optional 17-man external life rafts, search light, external rescue hoist, and ice detection and active protection system. The four-axis auto-pilot allows auto hover, SAR mode and search patterns.

The AW139 SAR variant can carry one or two pilots and 12 passengers. It can reach a distance of 927km while carrying maximum load. The maximum endurance of the helicopter at 6,000ft altitude with 1,654kg fuel (no reserve) is 5 hours and 56 minutes.

EC725 Helicopter

The EC725 helicopter from Airbus Helicopters is a multirole rotorcraft suitable for SAR and Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) missions. It is capable of operating from vessels and onshore to conduct missions in complex environments.

The cockpit incorporates four-axis dual duplex digital AFCS, and flight management system with Doppler, GPS and SAR modes. The helicopter is fitted with a range of SAR equipment including search and weather radar, TV/IR camera, eye-safe laser telemeter, double hoist, emergency floatation system, casualty carrying installation for stretchers, personal locator, loud speaker and searchlight.

The SAR range of EC725 can be increased with the integration of 990L rear jettisonable fuel tank. The helicopter has a maximum range of 1,339km and can endure airborne for 6.5 hours without aerial-refuelling.

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