New Puma EC-225 search-and-rescue choppers make debut
ROC Central News Agency
By Chen Pei-huang and Sofia Wu
Taipei, Jan. 17 (CNA) An EC-225 Super Puma search-and-rescue helicopter acquired by the Air Force last November was put through its paces for the media at an air base in southern Taiwan for the first time Tuesday as part of a pre-Lunar New Year military drill.
The aircraft is one of three advanced rescue choppers that the Air Force took delivery of from Eurocopter Nov. 25 to beef up its disaster relief capabilities.
The all-weather, all-topography helicopter took part in the training exercise at the Chiayi air base ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, which will begin Jan. 22. The other two were on static display at the same air base.
Lt. Col. Chang Chien-wei said the three helicopters are scheduled to be commissioned into service with the Air Force Seagull Rescue Squadron July 1. The squadron currently operates 17 S-70 choppers, most of which are over 20 years old, he added.
The Super Puma has a five-blade main rotor incorporating a new airfoil shape to reduce vibration levels and increase its capacity to up to 24 passengers. It is equipped with de-icing systems, movable stretchers, life rafts, pop-out floats, life monitoring devices and automatic flight control systems.
It can also be used to airlift supplies to isolated areas and to transport sick and injured people to hospital.
The EC-225 was first developed by Eurocopter in 1998 and Taiwan placed its order for three of them at a cost of US$110 million in February 2010, with an option for 17 more.
Taiwan sent pilots, crew and ground service personnel to Eurocopter's European base for a four-month training course last year to learn how to fly and maintain the machines.
The helicopters are 19.5 meters long, have a maximum take-off weight of 11.2 tons and a range of 857 km, in comparison with the S-70Cs' take-off weight of 9 tons and a range of 550 km.
Eurocopter is a wholly owned subsidiary of the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co., the parent company of Airbus and one of the three largest aerospace groups in the world.
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