Estonia operates three helicopters between the Police and Border Guard and the Rescue Board, and is thinking about getting a fourth. While the state is looking at another full-size rescue helicopter, pilots think getting a smaller aircraft would make more sense.
Pilot Martin Noorsalu of the not-for-profit Eesti Kiirabikopter (Estonian Ambulance Helicopter) told daily Postimees that the three helicopters of the Agusta Westland AW139 type where too small for most rescue operations, but too large for border patrol and ambulance flights.
A helicopter of the size with small landing gear also had trouble landing in lots of places, for example where the ground was soft. On the islands there often wasn’t enough space for the large aircraft to land.
According to the not-for-profit, who have already tried to convince the Ministry of Social Affairs of the need for smaller ambulance aircraft, the state should spend €6 to 8 million on a smaller helicopter, and not another €24 to 32 million on a fourth aircraft of the type already in use.
A smaller machine would need less attention in terms of maintenance, a point of some importance considering that most of the bottlenecks in the schedules of the existing helicopters occur due to scheduled as well as irregular maintenance work.
The ministry’s press spokeswoman, Kristin Rammus, said that the ministries were currently “mapping out” the need for new aircraft, based on which a memorandum would then be prepared on the need for a fourth helicopter.
Editor: Dario Cavegn