Portugal’s SAR AW101 Merlin lifesavers

Covering an area of more than two million square miles, Portugal’s Merlin rescue helicopters have a huge task on their hands. Davide Daverio looks at their vital search and rescue role

Portugal has huge challenge when it comes to the size of its area of responsibility (AOR) for its search and rescue (SAR) service. The AOR covers from its coastline towards the middle of the Atlantic, an area that includes the busiest air and naval routes between Europeand America.

The country’s Air Force maintains a 24-hour alert service so it’s ready to intervene in the case of a distress call coming from anywhere inside this area. The SAR alert is assigned to different units of the Força Aérea Portuguesa (FAP; Portuguese Air Force), that use both fixed and rotary wing aircraft. Esquadra (Squadron) 751 ‘Pumas’, whose motto is Their motto is ‘para que outros vivam’ – so others may live, operates the AgustaWestland AW101 Merlin helicopter.


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