Leonardo Helicopters teamed up with legendary climber Simone Moro to test viability of AW119KX in high altitude rescue and transport in one of the most challenging areas on earth.
Leonardo Helicopters announced today that the single engine AW119KX has arrived in Nepal to start a demo tour. Leonardo has also teamed up with legendary climber Simone Moro, also a helicopter pilot and the only alpinist in history to have reached four 8,000 meter peaks in winter.
The goal of the demo tour is to test some features including the possibility of being able to carry out helicopter rescue missions in the AW119Kx at high altitudes. The demo tour will consist in two parts: during the first week, to test some features of the AW119Kx, passenger transport missions will be simulated starting from Nepal’s capital, Katmandu (4200ft), to several base camps in the surroundings, but at higher altitudes. During this phase, it will also be possible for some potential clients to participate in such missions and test the helicopter capability. The second week will be dedicated to high-altitude aerial work activities, including several tests for the transport of materials with the cargo hook.
Leonardo has gone the extra mile in preparation for this trip, setting up a microsite on the Leonardo website that is being updated each day during the trip, along with photos from Leonardo photographer Simon Pryor who is also on site in Kathmandu to accompany the team and pr ovide photography of the achievements from the team. You can find the page and follow the adventure by clicking HERE. To read the latest installment from the team, you can also read it below.
28th March 2017
The helicopter was prepped and ready to fly at 07.00 but due to low visibility at Kathmandu Airport, the flight was delayed by one hour. At 08.00 sharp the helicopter took off for Lukla airport with a full load of passengers and fuel. The flight to Lukla was daunting, with large sections of dense clouds: the AW119Kx reached Lukla airport in 50 minutes. At Lukla, some of the passengers were dropped off and then we proceeded to Namche (11,700 ft).
In Namche, a rescue call was received for two people stranded in Gora Shep (16,150 ft), so the pilots decided to proceed to pick up the two passengers on an unexpected mission, given that the helicopter was quite heavy due to the fuel on board. Furthermore the weather suddenly changed and Gora Shep began experiencing strong winds of 24 knots. Notwithstanding the extreme conditions, the AW119Kx reached Gora Shep and managed to pick up the two passengers who were brought back safely to Lukla.
The news of the AW119Kx’s good performance spread alongside the strong winds and shortly after another rescue request reached the Koala.
Enroute to Upper Lobuche (16,200 ft), the helicopter dropped off some of its passengers in Namche and managed to rescue two people (an elderly woman and her daughter) from Upper Lobuche, which was also experiencing strong cross winds of about 25 knots. On the return flight to Lukla an additional passenger was picked up from Namche. The onsite team learned that due to the strong winds, two other helicopters tried but had failed to land in Upper Lobuche before the mission was given to the AW119Kx.
The four rescued passengers from Gora Shep and Upper Lobuche were transported from Lukla back to Kathmandu. Subsequently, another flight from Kathmandu to Lukla was carried out, and the return to Kathmandu was completed in a swift 40 minutes notwithstanding the dense clouds encountered again enroute.
The next objective is to fly out to Mount Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak in the world!