29 December 2014 - Air Corps Operations 2014.

The Air Corps is a constituent element of the Irish Defence Forces and is the State’s organic military air asset.

Since its foundation in 1922, the Air Corps has a proud tradition of service to the State and the citizens of Ireland. It fulfills all defence and security roles assigned to it by the Government and actively supports other State agencies and bodies in delivering services beyond their current capabilities.

In 2014 the Air Corps has proven itself again to be flexible, adaptable and fit for purpose. During the course of the year it has flown over 10,000 hours on over 5,500 missions in support of the people of Ireland, and has conducted missions throughout Ireland, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the United States during 2014.

As a learning organisation the Air Corps used 2014 to continue to develop its potential to respond to the changing demands and needs of its role. During the year personnel were deployed on NATO courses, International Airspace Management courses, multinational training exercises around the world, and even deployed an AW139 helicopter to the UK to take part in an International Helicopter Handling Instructors Course with the RAF.

Air Ambulance

The Air Corps completed 107 Air ambulance missions, including 64 national and 47 international transfers of patients. The Air Corps’ unique ability to conduct multiple missions using fixed wing and rotary wing assets meant that there were several days in 2014 when numerous air ambulance were completed at the same time.

The Air Corps also had the privilege of welcoming back some of VIP passengers during the year to meet with the crews who fly them when they were in need. One such visitor was 5 year old Hannah, from Donegal, came to say thank you to some of her heroes in August.

View Photo Here >>

On the 26th November 2009 she first met with the Air Corps when she needed urgent transport from Letterkenny to Dublin. Thanks to the speedy transfer from her helicopter crew and the support from Air Corps ground staff, she got the treatment she required and has made a full recovery.

The increase in demand for air ambulances has given rise to the Air Corps maintaining dedicated crews on stand-by 24/7 for fixed wing and rotary wing with the ability to cove

  • Transport of Neonates;
  • Inter-hospital transfer of patients with spinal or other serious injury;
  • Transport of patients requiring specialised emergency treatment in the UK;
  • Transport of Organ retrieval teams in Ireland ;
  • Transport of patients from the islands where the Coastguard is not available;
  • Transport of paediatric patients requiring immediate medical intervention.

Missions such as the rapid transfers to London are especially important to Irish children requiring transplants. These time critical patients are included in the UK’s donor pool and so rely on the speedy transport of the Air Corps when they receive a call to the UK for a transplant.

On one of these missions to Birmingham in July the crew met with international pop star Pharrell Williams who offered his thanks and support to members of the Irish Defence Forces for their efforts in helping to save lives this way.

View the Photo Here >> 

Air Corps helicopter crews can also utilise specialist Night Vision Goggles (NVG) for night time missions and are the only pilots in the State with the capability to fly using NVG. In addition to these inter-hospital transfers the Air Corps are continuing to support the HSE National Ambulance Service (NAS) in the pilot project to provide dedicated aeromedical support to the West of Ireland. The pilot Emergency Aeromedical Service (EAS) operates from Custume Barracks, Athlone and 2014 were tasked 446 times from the NAS.

Search and Rescue (SAR)

The Air Corps conducted 12 SAR missions in 2014. Of these missions 11 comprised of SAR top cover provided by the Air Corps’ fixed Wing assets, which included the CASA providing cover for the medical evacuation of an injured fisherman from a fishing vessel approx 230 miles off North West of Sligo on the 26th of October.

During SAR topcover missions the Air Corps will arrive on scene ahead of the rescue helicopter and make contact with the vessel to ascertain the condition of the patient, check the weather on scene and pass these details back to the helicopter. They also pass on relevant instructions from the helicopter crews to the vessel so they can prepare for winching.

The Air Corps’ rotary wing were also involved with several rescues in 2014. This included mountain rescue SAR taskings from Croagh Patrick during Reek Sunday, flood relief during the severe storms in February and an urgent request from Mine Rescue to transport rescue crews from Lisheen Mine to Tara Mines on the 5th of April.

Maritime Operations

The CASA CN 235 maritime patrol aircraft have a daily tasking to patrol the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and this year completed 253 regular maritime patrols, with 19 high level patrols and 15 night time patrols in 2014. During these patrols the CASA has the responsibility of monitoring fishing activities in Irish Waters, but also uses these patrols to contribute to the security of the State’s Sea Lines of Communication (SLOCs), safeguarding the lines of supply for the importation of energy products and monitoring  maritime traffic through Irish waters.

On the 23rd of September the Air Corps provided top cover support for a co-ordinated operation at sea that resulted in the detention of a yacht, MAKAYABELLA, where a significant quantity of suspected controlled drugs were located onboard. The operation was conducted using inter-agency personnel and in challenging conditions between 200 and 300 miles West South West of Mizen Head.

Operation Baseline

In September the Air Corps began an operation with Ordnance Survey Ireland to take the exact measurements of the country's territorial waters from 50 specially selected points around the coast. In Operation Baseline Air Corps helicopters winched geographers on to some of the most inaccessible headlands and islands on our shores to mark co-ordinates from which the breadth of our territorial sea is measured.

Currently the island of Ireland itself covers 20,863,360 acres of land and over 220 million acres of marine and undersea territory. This marine environment is a fantastically valuable resource and, by using the Air Corps, the National Mapping Agency are in the process of confirming the size of Ireland’s Territorial sea and EEZ, and the State’s rights over the exploration and use of marine resources of this area.

Home of the Air Corps

The home of the Air Corps, Casement Aerodrome also played a major part in 2014 hosting several key events.

On the 7th April President of Ireland Michael D Higgins and Commander in Chief of Óglaigh na hÉireann departed Casement Aerodrome for an historic State Visit to the UK.

The Defence Forces provided Ceremonial Elements and a Guard of Honour at íras an Uachtaráin, a Cavalry Escort to Baldonnel where he boarded Irish 251 for the first visit of an Irish President to the UK.

On the 11th April President Michael D Higgins, returned from this historic visit aboard the Air Corps’ Gulf Stream IV. Upon arrival on Irish soil, in Casement Aerodrome he was received by a 100 man Guard of Honour, before being escorted by the 2 Cavalry Squadron to íras an íšachtarán.

Baldonnel hosted three overseas rotations during 2014, providing the logistical support for the departing troops and welcoming the troops returning home from Syria and Lebanon.

Air Corps personnel also played a vital role in international peace and security in several overseas missions with 40 troops serving between the Lebanon, Syria, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Mali.

In 2014 the Air Corps were proud to be able to display their pilot’s skills at some of the Nations prestigious events.

On June 3rd the Air Corps honored the President of Mozambique with a spectacular fly past by four PC9s.

Four PC9s also paid tribute at the National Day of Commemoration Ceremony at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham in June and Sunday 20th July the Air Corps took centre stage for the Bray airshow with displays from Eagle Section (PC-9), Romeo Section (Cessna FR 172) and Neptune Section (CASA & PC-9), as well as individual displays from our fleet.

Over the course of 2014 Cessna FR 172 REIMS Rocket flew 238 cash escorts and completed 25 Wildlife surveys. Air Corps helicopters assisted the OPW transporting materials to the Skellig Islands, winched vital material for National Parks and Wildlife and transported Ballot boxes to voters offshore.

The Air Corps even managed to capture on film one of the rarest and remarkable spectacles in the natural world on a maritime patrol -- a massive fin whale leaping from the water, and in majestic missile-like form three times.

The images and video taken of the phenomenon were passed to the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group for their research and travelled internationally across all media platforms, proving the rarity of such an event.

The Air Corps is constantly adapting to meet the demands of an ever-changing environment and this increased demand for aerial capability is consistent with Ireland’s remote geographical location as an island on the western extremity of Europe.

The diverse nature of the Air Corps missions continues to attract talented young Irishmen and women to an interesting and challenging career.

View the Best of The Air Corps 2014 Flickr Album >>

Press Release Date: Monday 29th December 2014

For Further Information contact:

Press Officer: Comdt. Seán Ó Fátharta

Tel: 045 49 2502 , 045 49 2503

Mobile : 087 2482130

E-mail: Press Officer