- Aircraft and helicopters
AB-412 search and rescue helicopter
The Royal Netherlands has been flying the AB-412 SP search and rescue helicopter since 16 February 1994. The 3 AB-412 SPs are stationed at Leeuwarden Air Base. From that base, the helicopters are used to search for and rescue fighter pilots who have to exit their aircraft over the sea.
Length 14 m
Height 4.6 m
Width 2.8 m
Cabin 2.34 x 2.44 m
Main rotor 4 x 7 m blades (diameter 14 m) 324 rpm
Tail rotor 2 x 1.3 m blades (diameter 2.6 meter) 1,661 rpm
Engines Pratt & Whitney PT6T-3B Twinpac
Power 2 x 800 hp (1600) continuous; 2 x 900 hp (1800) for a maximum of 5 minutes; 1 x 970 hp maximum single engine for 30 minutes
Weight empty 2,935 kg; maximum 5,400 kg
Speed cruise speed 216 km/h; maximum 255 km/h
Flight range 650 km / 3 hours at cruise speed
Flight ceiling maximum 4,816 m (16,000 feet)
Registration numbers R-01, R-02, R-03
Manufacturer Agusta (under licence from Bell Helicopter)
Pax capacity 13 seated
Communications equipment marine telephone (for contact with central ambulance station), C-2000
Navigation equipment VOR, TACAN, ILS; ADF, Doppler, GPS, R-NAV, weather radar
Other equipment Nightsun searchlight (1,600 Watt); rescue raft for 10 people; automatic inflatable floats for emergency water landings
Optional medical equipment 1 stretcher, oxygen panel + reanimation equipment, Propaq suction unit, defibrillator, first aid bag, connections for baby incubator.
In use with Royal Netherlands Air Force
The search and rescue task is directly linked to the exercise area for these aircraft on Vlieland. In addition to the SAR task, the air force also deploys the helicopters for transporting patients from the West Frisian Islands to hospitals on the mainland and for rescuing people from the sea. The helicopters are equipped with medical equipment including an oxygen panel and a heart monitor. There are inflatable floats mounted on the landing gear to keep the helicopter afloat if it has to set down in the water. The AB-412 SP also has an inflatable boat as part of its standard equipment. The inflatable boat can hold up to 10 people.
Because of its predominantly yellow colour, the Agusta AB-412 SP is also known affectionately as Tweety. The Royal Netherlands Air Force purchased 3 helicopters from the Italian manufacturer Agusta. Early in 1994, they replaced the Alouette III, which had served as the SAR squadron helicopter for 25 years. The bright colours of the helicopters - yellow and red - were chosen to make it easier to see during SAR missions.
The AB-412 is actually a direct successor to the famous UH-1 Iroquois ('Huey'). The characteristic beating sound of the Huey is not present in the AB-412, however, because the Augusta Westland helicopter has 4 rotor blades rather than 2. The inflatable floats mounted on the ski-undercarriage of the AB-412 are intended to prevent the helicopter from sinking following a landing at sea. For the SAR role, there is also a winch on the right side of the hull and a 'night sun' searchlight that can be mounted under the nose. The nose also houses a weather radar. Before the AB-412 went into service, the SAR squadron flew Alouette IIIs for 25 years.
The SAR carries out approximately 150 flights per year. That averages 3 flights per week, but in the summer months, it is sometimes 3 times per day. The SAR squadron works closely with the volunteers of the Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Association (KNRM) in its SAR work.
During a mission, there are always 5 crew members on board the SAR helicopter. Two pilots, one of whom is the captain, a hoist operator to operate the winch, a rescuer and a nurse. All crew members have received advanced medical training. That is essential in the event that medical assistance is required during the flight.
The helicopter can transport 3 patients lying down. The SAR helicopter has the following medical equipment to provide assistance during the flight:
- suction equipment;
- reanimation equipment;
- vital-signs monitor;
- heart-rhythm monitor with defibrillator;
- bandages and other supplies;
The Agusta AB-412 SP helicopters are stationed at Leeuwarden Air Base and assigned to the SAR squadron. One helicopter is on 24-hour standby for the Vliehors range on Vlieland. For strategic reasons, the air force conducts search and rescue operations from the Vliehors on Vlieland. Aircraft from the Dutch and NATO air forces hold live-firing exercises over the West Frisian Islands. In view of the SAR helicopters' primary task, the response time in the event of accidents must be as short as possible. Vlieland is therefore the logical choice for home base.