On 4 April 2017 the Austrian Armed Forces’ Alouette III Helicopters flew from EUFOR HQ, Camp Butmir for the last time. The light utility aircraft has been the primary medical evacuation and rescue helicopter of the Op Althea mission in BiH in since 2009. Their role will now be carried out by purposely re-fitted Augusta Bell (AB) 212 helicopters which are already part of the mission.
As the AB212 helicopters were primarily used for transport purposes, this role will now be passed to a new-to-mission Austrian Armed Forces air asset; the Pilatus PC-6 Porter Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) utility aircraft. Chief of Staff EUFOR, Brigadier General Albert Sáfár, attended the final farewell celebration in the hanger at Camp Butmir on 3 April.
The Alouette III helicopters were used for multiple rescue operations over the 7 years with the mission, helping out mine victims on Jahorina in 2011, with an avalanche in 2012 and with the flooding in 2014. Nearly 300 people were airlifted to safety including 88 injured personnel receiving MEDEVAC assistance with the aircraft clocking over three and a half thousand hours of flight time total.
The Pilatus PC-6 Porter aircraft can carry up to 6 people or 800kg of equipment or a mix of both. It has a range of 400 Nautical Miles (NM), or 900NM if using its external fuel tanks and can land on an air strip as short as 300m.