Loulé’s only Kamov rescue chopper “indefinitely out of action”

After last month’s news that the Algarve’s summer cover of two Kamov emergency helicopters was being reduced to one – based in Loulé – that too has now vanished, as it undergoes maintenance and repairs expected to take “an undetermined time”.

According to Correio da Manhã this morning, problems in the Kamov, as well as in a sister craft based in Santa Comba Dão (Viseu) were detected around a month ago.

They appear to centre on the choppers’ winches, which as CM points out are “fundamental” in any search and rescue operation, particularly when rescuing people from boats at sea.

A source from ANPC (Portugal’s civil protection authority) has said both helicopters have been delivered to their Russian manufacturer which is expected to get in touch when the necessary repairs have been effected.

For now, search and rescue missions will be assured by the Navy and Air Force, added the source.

Portugal’s six-strong Kamov fleet came into operation in 2007 with a principal brief focused on fire-fighting.

As CM explains, since that time, four have been out of order for various periods.

RTP reported earlier this year that the Russians suspected the problems lay in their maintenance, which may not have been carried out using the correct equipment.

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