China acquires six AW189 search and rescue helicopters

Simon Vandamme/

The Ministry of Transport of China ordered six AgustaWestland AW189 helicopters from Leonardo, with an option for two additional aircraft. They will be employed by the Ministry’s Rescue and Salvage Bureau for maritime search and rescue operations. 

The helicopter can accommodate up to 19 passengers, or be configured for up to three stretchers, nine personnel, and a full suite of life-support equipment. Its array of sensors allows tracking of up to 20 moving targets. 

With the addition of auxiliary fuel tanks, the maximum operational range of the AW189 is 650 nautical miles (1,206 kilometers). According to Leonardo, the new helicopter will extend the range of the agency’s search and rescue capability by an extra 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers).  

“We are happy to contribute to this crucial life-saving program of the Ministry of Transport increasing its capabilities,” commented Gian Piero Cutillo, Managing Director of Leonardo Helicopters. “The selection of the AW189 will deliver outstanding long-range search and rescue in demanding maritime environment conditions.” 

The deliveries will be completed by 2023.  

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