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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 20 January 2019

UAE mountain crash helicopter a favourite due to safety features

The vehicle is popular among oil rig operators and search and rescue teams

The AgustaWestland is a workhorse of the skies and often the choice for oil rig operators and search and rescue teams.
The AgustaWestland is a workhorse of the skies and often the choice for oil rig operators and search and rescue teams.

Latest: Single dad paramedic among UAE mountain crash helicopter victims

The AgustaWestland 139 is sold as one of the safest helicopters on the market.

Boasting twin engines and several safety features, it has been adapted for use across a range of sectors. Its interior space – it has room for up to 15 passengers – has made it a popular option for offshore companies seeking to transport workers to platforms at sea. Abu Dhabi Aviation last year ordered two additional AW139s, to compliment the 15 it already had, to help move oil and gas sector employees.

With a cruise speed of 165 knots (306kph), the fastest of its size, it is also an attractive option for rescue and emergency services. It is able to take off and land in confined areas and on uneven terrain. The room on offer means there is space for up to four stretchers along with five seats and large doors can allow for easy loading and unloading of patients.

Introduced in 2003, it has also been adapted for police and fire services, as well as the military. The UAE were among the first air forces to purchase AW139s.

However, it has been involved in accidents over the years. In 2014, one of the helicopters crashed in Norfolk, England, in heavy fog. All four people on board were killed including Edward Haughey, a member of the British House of Lords. An investigation found there had been no mechanical error.

Last year, an investigation was launched after a helicopter crashed in waters near Mubarraz Island. The crew of the AW139 decided to ditch after hearing a warning message and hearing a mechanical noise while they were transporting oil workers.

The crew made a “mayday” call on the emergency radio frequency.

The two crew members and passenger on board were uninjured and boarded the aircraft’s emergency raft. They were rescued by the UAE Coastguard.

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Updated: December 31, 2018 09:12 AM

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