AS 355 F-1 Ecureuil 2, built in 1983

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 © Technisches Museum Wien, Photo: Peter Sedlaczek

Air rescue ensures that medical assistance reaches the scene of an accident in less than 15 minutes, bringing hospital care on site as quickly as possible.

The establishment of an air rescue service in Austria was prompted by the terrible avalanche catastrophes of 1953/54 in the Gasteiner Tal and Großer Walsertal valleys and the widespread flooding of the Danube valley in the summer of 1954. Those events had posed serious problems for the emergency services on the ground.

The air rescue service was initially provided by the Ministry of the Interior and then taken over by private operators in the early 1980s. In 2009 the largest provider in Austria with 16 bases and 24 helicopters was the Christophorus air rescue association operated by the ÖAMTC automobile club.

The Ecureuil 2 (= squirrel) exhibited at the Technisches Museum Wien (Vienna Technical Museum) was Austria’s first emergency rescue helicopter, in July 1983. The Aérospatiale AS 355F Ecureuil multi-purpose helicopter was first flown in 1979, a further development of the twin-engine AS 355E with increased payload. Economy and cost-effective maintenance were two of its key design aspects. The Ecureuil helicopters have since been replaced by the Eurocopter 135 with 1340 hp. On both types, in the event of a turbine defect, all the flight manoeuvres can still be carried out using the second turbine.

The helicopter was originally stationed in Innsbruck, but was not particularly well suited for alpine terrain. In September 1984 it was relocated to Wiener Neustadt. After a brief spell in Krems it became an international emergency rescue helicopter in July 2002. Its end came on 3 December 2002 when it sustained severe damage during an emergency landing caused by an unknown technical problem.

Following its complete restoration by the Bundesfachschule für Flugtechnik (Federal Aeronautics College) in Langenlebarn the AS 355 F-1 arrived at the Technisches Museum Wien on 6 December 2003, donated by the ÖAMTC. This rescue helicopter with the registration OE-FXA flew more than 15,000 assignments in just under two decades.

 

Specifications

Powerplant: 2 x Allison 250-C20F turboshaft, 420 shp each
Rotor diameter: 10.69 m
Overall length: 10.93 m
Height: 3.14 m
Max. take-off weight: 2,300 kg
Cruising speed: 234 km/h
Range: 740 km
Flight crew: pilot, emergency doctor, air rescue paramedic
Capacity: 1 patient



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