Swiss technology company RUAG has successfully completed a cockpit modernisation project on an Airbus EC135 T2+ rescue helicopter for Geneva University Hospital, Switzerland’s largest university medical facility. The comprehensive refurbishment included the installation of two, state-of-the-art Garmin GTN 750 GPS/NAV/COMM multifunction display systems combined with a GTX 33es remote-controlled transponder, as well as a European Aviation Safety Agency Air Operations-compliant Usage Monitoring System. Furthermore, an annual platform maintenance was performed during the modernisation downtime.
Geneva University Hospital (HUG) operates a single Airbus EC135 T2+ emergency helicopter conducting hospital-to-hospital transfers, accident response, rescue missions in Switzerland and the surrounding French territory, and water rescue on Lake Geneva. Already in service for over 12 years and performing an ever-increasing number of missions per year, the HUG helicopter required an avionics upgrade to improve cockpit ergonomics, reduce pilot workload, and bring it into full compliance with European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) regulations. The latter required the installation of a new Usage Monitoring System (UMS), new 8.33 kHz-compliant radios, and a new Mode S level 2 surveillance transponder. RUAG Aviation was chosen to carry out these modifications as well as perform additional maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services during the same downtime.
“The RUAG solution benefited us considerably, and allowed us to reduce costs thanks to faster-than-expected delivery. The latest Garmin touchscreens support the industry’s most up-to-date cockpit functionality and pilot work experience. The new configuration makes the platform EASA compliant, while extending the helicopter’s service life,” said Mr. Adrian Hirt, technical manager from HUG.
RUAG began the helicopter upgrade on 19 October 2015, delivering the platform on 27 November 2015 – a remarkable turnaround time for a project of this size and complexity. “In just six weeks, we fully replaced the helicopter’s GPS system, transponder and radio communication equipment with two, state-of-the-art Garmin GTN 750 GPS/NAV/COMM multifunction display systems and a remote controlled GTX 33es transponder. A new Health and Usage Monitoring System was also installed to help improve helicopter reliability, safety and availability. The upgrade significantly modernised the cockpit – not only ensuring compliance with EASA regulations but, just as importantly, creating a digitised, visualised and intuitive cockpit that ultimately reduces pilot workload,” explained Claudio Zeiter, Teamleader Commercial Helicopter Services, RUAG Aviation.
The integration is certified for Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) and Precision-Area Navigation (P-RNAV). The Garmin unit’s integrated terrain display provides increased situational awareness of hazards and obstacles, an especially important function for pilots carrying out emergency mountain rescues. Moreover, RUAG replaced the helicopter’s transponder system with a Garmin GTX 33es unit, remote controlled directly from the Garmin GTN 750 touchscreen display, saving a considerable amount of important panel space compared to a conventional transponder control head, while also improving integration of the entire system.
RUAG Aviation emphasises the importance of complete reliability and transparency throughout their upgrade and MRO projects. Constant communication with the HUG team accelerated both the decision-making process and workflow, contributing further to the fast turnaround time.
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