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Air Zermatt: adds the latest Bell 429 helicopter to its fleet

Air Zermatt has expanded its fleet with Europe's most modern helicopter. From mid-September, a helicopter Type Bell 429 will fly for the famous mountain rescue service. The Swiss helicopter company stands for reliability and speed. The Air Zermatt specialists rescue casualties from the mountains and out of glacier crevasses as well as performing transport assignments and touristic flights.

The Zermatt mountain rescue pioneers continually develop and perfect rescue techniques, which achieve maximum efficiency thanks to team work between the helicopter crews and rescuers. Gerold Biner, CEO of Air Zermatt: “With the new Bell 429 helicopter we will also be able to carry out difficult night rescues.” The helicopter, registered as HB-ZSU, has specially built-in, highly-efficient SX5 searchlights, a Max Viz infrared camera, the certified NVG (Night Vision Goggles) night vision system, a 90-metre-long winch and modern medical technology. It is also approved for blind flights and will go into service from mid-September 2012.

Active in three sectors
Material transport is an important business sector of Air Zermatt. Transport flights take up 60% of flying hours. Lama and Ecureuil helicopters carry up all shapes and sizes of building material as under-slung loads to mountain building sites, mountain rail & cableways, mountain huts and avalanche barrier sites. Air Zermatt also specializes in timber transport, assembly work, greening large areas, fire-fighting missions and special assignments with working platforms. The new Bell 429 is for example particularly suitable for maintenance work on high-voltage power lines because it has two motors and thus is especially safe. The second largest number of Air Zermatt flying hours is taken up by rescue and transfer flights for casualties. The third largest number of flying hours involves touristic flights. The offers include round-flights over the Alps, around the Matterhorn, taxi flights from Swiss and international airports to the holiday destination of Zermatt and heli-skiing from mountain landing sites. The entire annual kerosene consumption of Air Zermatt for flights to these landing sites is equivalent to one single full tank for the flight of a large passenger airliner from Zurich to New York.

Internationally linked
Air Zermatt has international links thanks to its leading global position in mountain rescue. The company works with research stations in Germany and Austria as well as with the ISSM (International Society for Mountain Medicine) and other internationally active organizations. Gerold Biner, CEO of Air Zermatt, has been president of the IKAR/CISA – the world-wide platform for the exchange of mountain rescue know-how – since October 2010. Air Zermatt’s links also ensure that know-how is regularly communicated. And so since 2010, Air Zermatt has been working in Nepal to build a rescue station where helicopter pilots and mountain rescuers can be trained for highly complex rescue missions at altitudes up to 7000 metres. During its 40-year history, Air Zermatt has already received three heroism awards (1972, 1976, 2010) as well as many other international honours. 

Air Zermatt facts

Founding of Air Zermatt 1968
Bases Zermatt, Raron, Gampel, Sion (Canton Valais)
Number of employees Over 60
Of which helicopter pilots 10
Number of helicopters 8
Helicopter types and numbers Bell429 (1), EC135 (1) Ecureuil B3 (4), Lama (2)
Operational area Valais and with major incidents the whole of Switzerland
Training know-how transfer Nepal, Croatia, Russia, Turkey, Chile
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