Last September the Fallschirmjägerregiment 31 of the Bundeswehr held a week-long exercise on and near the small airfield of Karlshöfen, which is north of Bremen. During one of the days, a Super Lynx of Marinefliegergeschwader 5 joined the action in order to exercise sling operations with the Super Lynx.
Purpose of the exercise on that particular day was to practice sling load operations between the army’s ground team and the navy’s helicopter crew. In order to do so, a Super Lynx traveled the short distance from Nordholz Naval Air Station to Karlshöfen airport.
After arrival at Karlshöfen, a short briefing was held with all participants and the underslung cable was attached to the cargo hook of the Super Lynx. Meanwhile, three pallets with “cargo” were positioned next to the runway.
When everything was prepared, the helicopter crew took off and flew towards the first pallet. Over there the helicopter descended to about 5 meters so that the static line reached the ground riggers. Before any further action could be taken, first the riggers had to pick the line with a hook. This hook was grounded into the earth in order to discharge static electricity from the helicopter. Once this was the case, the pallet was hooked onto the cable and the helicopter hoisted it into the air.
The helicopter then flew a circuit with the 400 kilo cargo attached. The cargo was then lowered onto the ground and after grounding the helicopter again, the soldiers could unhook the cargo from the sling. All this was done directly underneath the helicopter, with the strong downwash of the rotorblades blowing at you.
This exercise was repeated at all three pickuppoints for about an hour, after which it was time to take the sling cable abooard again and to proceed back to Nordholz.
Naturally this could only be done after the team from MFG 5 made a nice flyby at the airfield.
The video below gives an impression how close the helicopter came during the exercise
Hospital Medisch Spectrum Twente (MST) operates as part of the Trauma Centre a heliport for handling Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) flights. In addition, ambulance flights and flights for the transportation of human organs are allowed to be carried out on this heliport. This heliport is the gateway to the Medisch Spectrum Twente when every second counts.
In the Twente region, MST is the only hospital with a heliport. The choice for MST was logical, on the one hand because the hospital is one of the eleven trauma centres in the Netherlands and on the other because of its central location in the east of the country and close to Germany. Some 90 per cent of the trauma helicopters that land at MST come from Germany. On average, the heliport receives about 120 helicopters per year.
Previously the heliport was located next to the hospital. At this location the iconic Bundeswehr UH-1D “Huey” helicopters from the SAR76 station in Rheine were a common sight. When the hospital was renovated, the heliport was relocated to the current location on top of the building. In this way an approach path free of obstacles was possible.
A trauma helicopter is deployed at the request of the emergency services after a serious accident. Often in traffic, but also, for example, after an incident in or around the house. In many cases, the helicopter flies in to get a specialised doctor to the accident site quickly. Patients or wounded are only transported by helicopter if they are stable, so sometimes a helicopter returns ’empty’ to the hospital to pick up only the medical staff.
The Netherlands has four so-called lifeliners, which are deployed in the north, south and west. Twente and the Achterhoek are mainly covered by the Christoph Europa 2 from Rheine, backed up by the Christoph Westfalen from Münster and the Christoph 8 from Lünen.
The majority of the patients that are transferred to the Medisch Spectrum Twente by helicopter originate from incidents in the Twente region and the neighbouring area in Germany. Most of the time this is done with the Christoph Europa 2, an EC.135 of ADAC Luftrettung based in Rheine. This type of helicopter weighs about 3000 kilos, can carry 4 seated persons (including the pilot) and 1 patient on a stretcher. This mini hospital can fly at a maximum speed of 260 km/h. After arriving at the helideck, the patinet can quickly be transferred to the emergency room to receive the treatment needed.
If something happens somewhere, the pilot and doctor together decide where to fly to. The pilot knows what distance can be flown, the doctor knows where the patient in question can receive the best care. It is noticed that more and more people are transferred to Enschede.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, helicopters were also used to transfer patients from one hospital to another. In the Netherlands the Lifeliner 5 was pressed into service (see more in this article) and visited Enschede several times as well.
Christoph Europa 2
The air rescue centre in Rheine has existed since 1982. Initially operated by the German Armed Forces with a Bell UH-1D SAR helicopter under the designation SAR 76, ADAC Luftrettung took over the station in 1998. Because of its proximity to the Dutch border, the “yellow angel” was given the call sign “Christoph Europa 2”. It is the second rescue helicopter to be given the name “Europa”. It is meant to make clear that helicopters in border areas do not stop at national borders and also care for patients in neighbouring countries.
The Mobile Medical Team (MMT) has Airbus helicopters at its disposal. The EC-135 (H135) from Airbus is used as a trauma helicopter, also called Lifeliner. The helicopter is mainly used when the doctor and the nurse of the MMT must be at the scene as soon as possible. A trauma doctor can perform certain actions and interventions that an ambulance nurse is not allowed to do. Life-saving activities can therefore already be started outside the hospital. The heli-MMT is usually deployed in case of serious accidents where quick start of medical treatment is important.
As of the 24th of March 2020 the fifth Mobile Medical Team (MMT) took to the air with an additional trauma helicopter to quickly transport intensive care patients. This helicopter was deployable throughout the Netherlands. In view of the growth in the number of patients infected with the coronavirus, it has been decided to use this helicopter in addition to the existing MMT service to get patients to the right hospital even faster and thus relieve the burden on road transport. The helicopter (type H145) was made available by the ANWB Medical Air Assistance (MAA) and has been fully equipped by Radboudumc for the transport of intensive care patients.
Besides the obvious subjects, the heliport every now and then also receives visitors that are not so often seen in the Twente region. Below are some examples.
Between 28 September and 15 October 2015 the exercise Trial Embow 2015 was held at the range of WTD 91 in Meppen (Germany). This item gives some insight into the participants and purpose of the exercise.
The purpose of the Embow excercises is to familiarize aircrew with the self-defence tools that they carry against ground-based systems. The main aim of Embow is to allow aviators to test, under live and monitored conditions, the capacity of their aircraft to evade infrared-guided surface-to-air missiles, from basic Manpads to more advanced surface to air short-range systems (SHORADS). As a cherry on the cake, the Embow trials are always performed in highly instrumented areas so that the participants can take a close look at the actual efficiency of the systems they field. Any noticed discrepancy is then funneled, in a second move, back to the industry for updating and improvements.
For this year’s edition the WTD 91 range was chosen as the location. The range is the largest instrumented range in Europe and with dimensions of 7 by 31 kilometers and a reserved airspace up to an altitude of 5000 feet. Next to that the facility has its own airfield and helipad, which was very useful for the helicopters participating in the exercise.
Down on the Range
During a typical sortie, the range was booked for the duration of 30 minutes. Sorties were only flown by single aircraft, as the whole mission had to be measured. The aircraft would then fly a pre-determined set of patterns (radials) upon which a flare would be dropped after a count down from the ground station. These missions were also flown with different types of flares per aircraft type. Evaluation of the measurements would then show if the flare behaved in the same way as specified by the producer.
At the airfield
Trial Embow XV saw participation from all over Europe with various types of aircraft, ranging from a Belgian A.109 Helicopter to the British C-17 transport aircraft. Particpating countries were Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom.
Most helicopters were temporarily based at Meppen’s airfield, whereas most fighters operated from Nörvenich and Leeuwarden airbases. Most transport aircraft flew directly form their homebase. Upon arrival at Meppen (EDR-34), they would change their normal radiocallsign to a callsign ranging from Outlaw01 to Outlaw10.
During the first weekend of September 2015 hosted the World Harbour Days. Every year hundredthousands of people take the chance to get a glimps behind the scenes of Europe’s largest port. The visitors can pay a visit to several ships, admire demonstrations on the water and watch presentations from the many companies that use the Port of Rotterdam. The main stage is next to the Erasmusbridge.
One of the demonstrations was hosted by the Royal Netherlands Navy. In this display, a vessel was attacked by “pirates” in small motorboats. Once the ship was captured, they hoisted their piratesflag in the mast.
In order to recapture the ship, the Royal Netherlands Navy came into action. First a FRISC with 6 marines aboard was deployed to capture the ship again. At the same moment a NH-90 from the Defence Helicopter Command (DHC) entered the scene and dropped marines, via the fast-roping technique, right onto the deck of the pirated vessel. The ship was consequently liberated.
At this point the demonstration was cut short. The reason was that a body was seen in the river, close to the display area. Next to police, fire brigade and ambulance services, all available boats from the display as well as the NH-90 moved to the scene to assist in the search operation. Shortly after, the remains of a person were recovered in the waters near the Koninginnebrug. More information (in Dutch) can be found HERE.
After the first of many rain showers, a rescue operation was displayed. In this scenario a fire had started aboard a tanker vessel, causing injuries to the crew. This meant that assistance was needed to extinghuish the fire and to evacuate the wounded. First on the scene was the KNRM Jeanine Parqui lifeboat, normally based in Hoek van Holland. This lifeboat was followed by one of the Port Authority’s tugs, which used its massive watercanons to stop the fire. Finally a Noordzee Helikopters Vlaanderen (NHV) SA.365 Dauphin helicopter arrived to rescue the people from the burning tanker. NHV performs Pilot and SAR duties on behalf of the Dutch government from their heliport in the Pistoolhaven on the Maasvlakte.
During the month of July the Büchel based Tornados from Taktisches Luftwaffen Geschwader 33 were temporarily deployed to Nörvenich Airbase (close to Cologne). The reason for this deployment was the fact that Büchel’s runway was being renewed.
Having both Eurofighters (Eufis) and Tornados (Tonis) operating from the same, very approacheable, base was a good reason to plan a day at the fence.
During the week of 15 to 21 june 2015, the 51st edition of the Paris Air Show (Salon international de l’aéronautique et de l’espace)was held at Le Bourget airport. This Air Show takes place every 2 years and counts as one of the largest trade shows for the aviation industry. Also this year, the show was visited by over 150,000 professional visitors as well as more than 3,000 journalists from over 80 countries.
This year’s edition of the Paris Air Show showed 1,017 order commitments and 206 options, which leads to a total of 1,223 orders. Of these orders, 531 went to Airbus and 350 to Boeing.
Traditionally the Paris Air Show is the home show for Airbus, as well as companies from the French defence industry like Dassault, Thales and MDBA. After this year’s merger with Eurocopter, the Airbus booth was the largest booth on the grounds and showed a wide spectrum of aircraft, ranging from the electrically powered E-Fan, through the Caracal helicopter, up to the enormous A.380 airliner. The booth also featured a full-scale mock-up of the new H160 helicopter. The H160 made it’s first flight from Marseille in the week prior to the Paris Air Show. Airbus also showed it’s goods in full force during the flying display. After the may 2015’s fatal crash in Seville and it’s subsequent grounding, the A.400M was back in action, showing an impressive flying display.
Due to the sequestration, the United Stated Department of Defence had to miss out on the 2013 edition of the Paris Air Show, but this year they returned in full force, showing aircraft such as the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the P-8 Poseidon on the static display.
An interesting newcomer was the Chengdu/PAC JF-17 fighter aircraft from Pakistan. This fighter aircraft was developed jointly by China and Pakistan. Pakistan produces 58% of the aircraft, China produces 42% and the aircraft is powered by a Klimov RD-93 engine. There are plans though to equip the next version of the JF-17 with a different engine, as the RD-93 (developed from the MiG-29’s RD-33) produces too much smoke. For this year’s Paris Air Show, the Pakistan Air Force brought 3 aircraft. One featured in the static show, while the other was shown during the flying display. The 3rd JF-17 featured as a backup aircraft. At the end of the show, Air Commodore Khalid Mahmood of the Pakistan Air Force announced that the first export-order was signed with an undisclosed Asian country.
Even though Airbus dominated the show, Boeing also made sure it’s presence was noted. In the weeks before the Air Show a video was already loaded onto YouTube, showing the complete display that the Boeing 787-9 would fly in Le Bourget. This display featured a near-vertical take-off and the audience was not left disappointed.
A new player in the market for small airliners is Bombardier. In Paris the Canadian company showed it’s new C-series with the CS100 and the CS300. With these aircraft Bombardier focuses on the market that is currently served by aircraft such as the Airbus 320 and the Boeing 737.
On the Ground
Le Bourget always has many gems in the static display, some hidden away behind flagpoles, tents and banners. Below is an impression of what could be found on the ground.
Up in the Air
Next to a huge showground for the static display, Le Bourget would not be complete without a flying display. Here are some pictures from this years show.
Patrouille de France
No Air Show is complete without a show from the famous Patrouille de France. The same obviously goes for Le Bourget.
The next Paris Air Show will be in June 2017. Let’s see what that edition will bring.
On the 26th of May the first former RNLAF AB.412SP destined for the Peruvian Navy was delivered from Liège to Gilze-Rijen Airbase in the Netherlands.
After 303 Squadron at Leeuwarden was de-activated in January because of budgetcuts, the 3 AB.412s were flown to the Agusta-Westland facility at Liège Airport. Over there the helicopters were completely refurbished and painted in the colours of the Peruvian Navy.
On the 26th of May 2015 the former R-03 was the first of the 3 helicopters that was flown to Gilze-Rijen. The helicopter had a sticker with the old serial on the door. This was due to Dutch legislation, as the helicopter was formally still part of the RNLAF; it had not been handed over to Peru yet.
Once all 3 AB.412s have arrived and have been tested, they will then be prepared for shipment to Peru. At this stage it is not know whether this will be done by sea or by air.