Eurocopter signed contracts with two customers for five new EC135 light twin helicopters in the run-up to Paris, one of which makes the Austrian automobile association (AMTC) the operator of the world's largest fleet of EC135s.

"AMTC plans to increase its fleet from 18 to 21 aircraft, with each of its three new light twins being configured for EMS missions. Eurocopter says the order reflects a steady increase in rescue and ambulance missions flown by the Austrian organisation over recent years.

"AMTC flew a record 13,227 missions in 2002, equating to one flight every 20 minutes, and amassed 6,500 flight hours. The organisation estimates that 1,000 lives were saved in that time.

It began a fleet renewal in 1997 and when the Austrian government decided in 2000 to privatise the country's EMS services entirely, the organisation won the contract for an additional eight bases previously operated by the government. Three more locations are in the pipeline.

Meanwhile, the German city of Hamburg has inked a contract for two EC135s for law enforcement missions, taking the total in operation across Europe with police forces to 55. Eurocopter says it expects to deliver the 300th EC135 to an unnamed UK customer this autumn.

Source: Flight Daily News