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Public service turboprops and helicopters


Helos and TPs with unique capabilities excel in emergency medical services, law enforcement, and search and rescue.

Pro Pilot staff compilation

Public service helicopters and turboprops (TPs) play a vital role in emergency and public safety operations. These versatile aircraft are designed to meet the needs of emergency medical services (EMS), search and rescue (SAR), and law enforcement (LE) agencies. In this article, we will explore a range of aircraft that are instrumental in executing these critical missions.

Daher TBM and Kodiak Turboprops


Daher’s TBM 960 and 940 single-engine TPs excel in public service applications, with exceptional speed and range making them well suited for medical evacuation (medevac), LE, and SAR missions.

The TBM 940 has a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) of 7394 lb, maximum cruise speed of 330 KTAS,  and a range of 1730 nm (with 45 min reserve). On the other hand, the TBM 960 offers an increased  MTOW of 7615 lb, with similar cruise speeds and range.

With Garmin G3000 avionics, customizable cabins, and enhanced safety features, the TBM turboprops provide a comfortable and efficient platform for public service operations, ensuring rapid response times and swift transportation of personnel, patients, and mission-essential equipment, ensuring effective EMS, SAR, and LE operations.

Their rugged and versatile Kodiak 100 and 900 turboprops are popular choices for public service missions. These aircraft feature short-takeoff-and-landing (STOL) capabilities, allowing them to access remote and challenging terrains.

Equipped with state-of-the-art avionics and spacious interiors, the Kodiak series offers optimal situational awareness, enabling efficient SAR operations, surveillance, and personnel transport in demanding environments. The Kodiak 100 can carry up to 3530 lb at 183 KTAS over 1005 nm, while the 900 model has a maximum range of 1129 lb at 156 KTAS. Max cruise speed is 210 KTAS.

Pilatus PC-12


The single-engine Pilatus PC-12 is known for its reliability, versatility, and ability to operate in challenging environments and remote areas. The PC-12 NGX, with its ability to access short runways and unprepared landing strips, supports a wide range of public service roles, including EMS, SAR, and LE.

Moreover, its Honeywell Primus Epic ACE flight deck with synthetic vision, coupled with a versatile aft cabin that can be reconfigured for medical transport, SAR, or accommodating specialized equipment, make it a preferred choice among public service organizations.

With an MTOW of 10,450 lb, maximum cruise speed of 290 KTAS, and a range of up to 2132 nm, the PC-12 NGX is a preferred choice for public service agencies seeking reliable and adaptable aircraft.

King Air 360ER

Textron Aviation

The King Air 360ER and Grand Caravan EX are widely recognized for their exceptional performance in public service operations. The King Air 360ER, with its extended range capabilities, enables longer range missions, while the Grand Caravan EX provides versatility for diverse applications.

These aircraft offer spacious cabins, advanced avionics, and rugged construction, making them ideal platforms for EMS and LE tasks.

With their long-standing reputation for reliability and durability, the King Air and Grand Caravan series are trusted choices for public service agencies worldwide. The King Air 360ER’s range of 2539 nm, maximum cruise speed of 303 KTAS, and useful load of 7174 lb enable operators to transport critical care patients, and its cabin can accommodate customized EMS and LE configurations.

The Grand Caravan EX, with a range of 964 nm,  a maximum speed of 195 KTAS, and a useful load of approximately 3865 lb, is an ideal platform for EMS operations, SAR missions, and LE tasks.

Airbus H145

Airbus Helicopters

Airbus offers a diverse range of helicopters suited for public service missions. The H225, powered by twin Safran Makila 2A1 engines, has a range of 600 nm and a useful load of 11,900 lb. It excels in critical missions, such as SAR, disaster response, and firefighting.

The company reports that the H225 is in service in 20 countries for SAR missions. It offers significant capacity for carrying EMS equipment, SAR gear, and personnel.

The H135 and H145 helicopters provide exceptional maneuverability, advanced avionics, and versatile interiors, making them well suited for EMS, SAR, and LE tasks. These helicopters excel in urban and challenging environments, offering rapid response times, superior visibility, and multi-role capabilities. The H135 comes equipped with dual Safran Arrius 2B2+ or Pratt & Whitney PW206B3 engines, and has a 6570-lb MTOW and a range of 342 nm. And the H145, powered by 2 Safran Arriel 2Es, has a speed of 140 kts, MTOW of 8380 lb, and a range of 351 nm.

Bell 429


Bell’s portfolio features several models that cater to public service needs. The Bell 429, powered by twin P&WC PW-207D1/D2 engines, offers exceptional performance and spacious cabins, providing a flexible platform for EMS, SAR, and LE operations.

Its 411-nm range, 155-kt cruise speed, and useful load of 3014 lb, enable the transportation of medical equipment, rescue teams, and LE personnel.

The single Rolls-Royce 250-C47E/4 turboshaft Bell 407 GXi combines power and agility to perform in a wide range of public safety roles.

The Bell 525 is the company’s most capable offering for demanding public service applications. Garmin G5000H avionics with touchscreen controls improve situational awareness, and 2 General Electric CT7-2F1 engines enable a range of  580 nm and a speed of up to 160 kts. And its cabin comes with mounting points for the necessary equipment to perform in public safety, EMS, and LE.

Leonardo AW119Kx


Leonardo has a strong presence in the public service sector. The single-engine AW119Kx helicopter was designed with EMS, firefighting, and SAR operations in mind. Its speed, maneuverability, and spacious cabin make it an efficient platform for such missions. A P&WC PT6B-37A engine gives it a maximum cruise speed of 130 kts and a range of up to  510 nm. And its cabin has the capacity for 4 medical attendants and a single stretcher, or 2 attendants and dual stretchers.

The AW109 GrandNew comes with 2 P&WC PW207C engines. It has a maximum range of 450 nm, a top speed of 153 kts, and a cabin that can be configured in a wide range of layouts, ensuring efficient patient and equipment transport for EMS, SAR, and medevac.

Powered by 2 General Electric CT7-2E1 or dual Safran Aneto-1K engines, the AW189’s long range and endurance are advantageous to SAR and medevac operators. The Leonardo AW189 boasts the largest cabin in its class, and its avionics provide search patterns and SAR advanced features to automate critical mission phases in all environmental conditions. Both engine configurations come with a Safran e-APU (60 kW) which ensures that rescue equipment, radios, and medical devices continue to function in case of an electrical emergency.

MD 902 Explorer

MD Helicopters

The twin MD 902 and single 530F helicopters are widely used in public service applications.

The MD 902 Explorer, with a pair of P&WC 207E engines and its NOTAR anti-torque system, offers exceptional maneuverability, reduced noise, and increased safety, making it ideal for urban EMS and LE operations. Maximum cruise speed is 140 kts, and range is 293 nm.

The MD 530F uses a single Rolls-Royce 250 IV-C30 turbine, enabling a maximum range of 223 nm and a maximum speed of 113 kts. It is often employed in LE and patrol missions.

Robinson R66


The manufacturer’s turbine-powered R66 has a single Rolls-Royce RR300 engine, permitting a maximum range of 350 nm. It is commonly used in LE, surveillance, and utility missions, where agility, speed, and affordability are key factors.

Robinson’s commitment to safety, reliability, and cost-effectiveness has made the R66 a popular choice among public service agencies.


Sikorsky provides a range of aircraft well suited for public service roles. The Sikorsky Firehawk, a variant of the legendary Black Hawk helicopter, is purpose-built for firefighting operations, so it’s capable of delivering large volumes of water or retardant to combat wildfires. It also performs well in SAR, medevac, and humanitarian assistance. It’s powered by 2 General Electric T700-701D engines and has an MTOW of 22,000 lb and a top speed of 163 kts.

Sikorsky S-92

Civil, military, and government agencies around the world use Sikorsky S-92s for life-saving missions. Dual General Electric CT7-8A engines enable a useful load of 12,125 lb, a maximum range of 547 nm, and a cruise speed of 151 kts.

The S-76 fleet exceeds 6.8 million flight hours in flight, and it’s used in various public service tasks, including EMS and SAR.

It’s powered by 2 P&WC PW210S engines, and in the cockpit pilots have Thales TopDeck avionics coupled with Honeywell’s enhanced ground proximity warning system (EGPWS). It has a maximum speed of 155 kts and a useful load (internal) of 4912 lb.


Public service turboprops and helicopters are integral to the success of EMS, SAR, and LE missions. Daher, Textron Aviation, Pilatus, Airbus Helicopters, Bell, Leonardo, MD Helicopters, Robinson, and Sikorsky all contribute to saving lives, protecting communities, and ensuring public safety. Their aircraft demonstrate remarkable capabilities, advanced technology, and reliability, empowering public service organizations to perform their vital missions with efficiency and effectiveness.