Since 2020, when the process of incorporation of the air units began to perform tasks in the field of protecting human life at sea and patrolling the coast.
In the presence of the Commander-in-Chief of the Chilean Navy, Admiral Juan Andrés De La Maza, General Officers and special guests, the official handover of the fifth Airbus H-125 helicopter to the General Directorate of Maritime Territories and Merchant Navy (Directemar) took place. This completes the renewal of the aircraft fleet, which performs rescue, inspection and logistical support functions, a process begun by Airbus Helicopters in 2019.
This initiative, part of the so-called “Gaviota Project”, aimed to replace the old Bell 206 Jet Ranger III models; with five new machines and the construction of their respective hangar at the Concón Naval Air Base from 2024.
The main tasks of these new helicopters include: protecting human life at sea, rescuing people, especially in the summer season, on national territory and performing maritime police and inspection functions.
They also provide support in aerial medical evacuation, maritime traffic control, logistical support for island and remote areas and maintenance of maritime signaling operated from naval platforms, as well as basic pilot training.
The first aircraft was purchased in 2020, two more in 2021 and a fourth naval unit in 2022. At the same time, Integrated Logistics Support (ILS), technical advice and appropriate training for pilots and maintenance personnel were provided.
On this occasion, the Director General of the General Directorate of the Sea Territory and Merchant Navy (DIRECTEMAR), Vice Admiral Fernando Cabrera, thanked everyone involved in the aircraft procurement process and therefore in the renewal institutional capacities, underlining the significant contribution made by these units and their crews since their arrival have done for the country. As an example, he pointed out that “since 2021, they have conducted 25 rescue operations and two medical air evacuations, saving 40 lives from risky situations, including several life-threatening ones.”
In this sense, Vice Admiral Cabrera stressed that “a helicopter is always on duty and this can range from monitoring or inspecting activities along the coast to rescuing a person at risk who without the help of a helicopter it would be very difficult or impossible to save them.”
Finally, the National Maritime Authority urged the crews of the new units to make the best use of them in the operations required by the Navy, particularly when rescuing people.
For his part, the Director General of Airbus Chile, Pierre-Marie Gout, thanked the institution for its trust, noting that “we have heard about the rescues in the summer season, the beach rescue, as well as the various medical evacuations” where the naval aviation is the protagonist was to save a life. We smile in these cases because we know that these helicopters are a work tool that supports the population and effectively fulfills the needs for which they were advertised.”
At the end of his speech, Gout thanked the trust placed in the Chilean Navy: “It is a great responsibility for Airbus to support this aircraft fleet as a manufacturer responsible for the renewal of this fleet. We hope to always meet your expectations.” We deliver solutions with the highest technology and quality,” he stressed.
H-125 AND ITS ABILITIES
Recognized in the world of military and civil aviation, these new units will be responsible for the Naval Aviation Multi-role Helicopter Squadron and will perform the multiple duties of the Maritime Authority.
Its acquisition represented a major advance due to its technology and its ability to function in adverse situations, in disasters, in rescue operations and in severe weather, making it the ideal platform for coastal operations.
Airbus Helicopters aircraft have an ergonomic cabin with space for two pilots and four passengers, are equipped with modern equipment with two digital displays, sea rescue equipment and modifications for operating naval platforms.