This summer, Norway started operating the “world’s best” rescue helicopters

AW101 rescue helicopterPhoto: Carina Johansen / NTB Scanpix

The task of picking out the replacements for Sea King rescue helicopters was one of the very first activities the Solberg government took on in the autumn of 2013.

In late August, the AW101 rescue helicopters became operational.

A lot of time passed between the initial decision and the launch event that took place at the rescue base on Sola on September 1.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg (H), Minister of Justice and Emergency Management Monica Mæland (H), and Minister of Defense Frank Bakke-Jensen (H) all participated in the ceremony and marked what was described as a “milestone for the Norwegian rescue service.”

However, no abrupt transition to the new helicopters took place. 

The currently used Sea Kings helicopter will be phased out gradually until the middle of 2023, after 47 years of service. 

The last helicopters of the model were purchased in 1996.

“Best in the world”

The manufacturer Leonardo, formerly AgustaWestland, from Italy, boasted that the Norwegian version AW101-612 is “the world’s best rescue helicopter – by a good margin.”

“The new rescue helicopters will have far better range, greater speed, and better ability to operate in bad weather than today’s Sea King helicopters. 

“This means greater security for people at sea, along the coast, and in remote areas across the country. 

“The Norwegian rescue service will, therefore, get a significant boost – both over sea and land,” the Ministry of Justice wrote in an email to news bureau NTB in late August.

Several delays

Due to delay after delay, the delivery of the helicopters came two and a half years after the promised deadline, which was originally set for March of 2016.

In May, the government explained why the process took such a long time in the revised state budget.

“The supplier had challenges with the development and certification of the new rescue helicopters… 

Furthermore, the virus outbreak delayed progress, as the supplier is located in Northern Italy and the United Kingdom,” the explanation noted, according to newspaper Teknisk Ukeblad.

© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today


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