We sat down with Talon Helicopters to talk about its operations, its first hoist rescue mission and why the Airbus Dauphin aircraft is its pick for search and rescue operations and so much more.
What’s your name?
Peter Murray, President of Talon Helicopters. I’m also a helicopter pilot who has logged about 9,500 flight hours.
Tell us about Talon Helicopters.
We do a little of everything, mostly in and around Vancouver, but also across Canada and into the United States. Our staff of 10 includes pilots, maintenance technicians and support personnel. We’re probably best known for search and rescue, but we also work in firefighting, film, utility and transport.
And your fleet?
We operate an entirely Airbus fleet, which includes one AS365 N2 Dauphin, one AS355 F2MAX and two Airbus AS350 B2 AStars.
What do you look for in a helicopter?
Versatility. Cabin flexibility. Reliability. Safety. When we’re called on, we need to know our helicopter is ready.
Talon is well-known for its search and rescue operations. Tell us about that.
We typically fly more than 100 rescue operations a year with local volunteer rescue teams. Roughly 95% of our rescue missions involve a 250-foot longline dropped through a hole in the trees or alongside a cliff face, so we clearly need an aircraft we can count on.
Recently, Talon began conducting hoist rescues, rather than using a fixed line. Have you had the opportunity to conduct a rescue hoist operation?
Yes, we completed our first mission on Valentine’s Day this year. We received a call about a lost hiker who went missing in a remote, wooded area of Ladysmith, a town on the east coast of Vancouver Island. When crews found her, she was lying in the snow, suffering from hypothermia and unable to walk. Fortunately, the helicopter crew was able to cover the distance quickly in the Dauphin and extract her with the hoist. It all happened very fast, and it was excellent work by the volunteers and everyone involved.
In Canada, fixed-line rescues are limited to daylight. With the hoist, we’re able to expand our search and
And you are now using the Dauphin for these missions. Why is the Dauphin so well-suited for search and rescue?
From a design perspective, this aircraft was way ahead of its time. The engineering is fantastic. It’s very robust, and it’s very fast, which is crucial in search and rescue. Its cabin is quite spacious and can comfortably carry nine passengers, in addition to one or two pilots. It excels in high altitude, making it a strong choice for Canada’s mountainous regions. As far as medium-sized helicopters go, you can’t beat the Dauphin.
You also fly the Dauphin for firefighting missions, correct?
Yes, we do. For a lot of people, it’s not the helicopter that comes to mind for firefighting. But we have found it performs exceptionally well. Its speed means that when other aircraft are still en route, we’re already bucketing the fire.
Using our Dauphin, we were the first helicopter operator to provide a Transport Canada/FAA approved Night Vision Goggle (NVG) night fire attack helicopter for flight trials with a Government Wildfire Agency in Canada. In July 2020, we worked with BC Wildfire Service to successfully demonstrate nighttime water drops near Penticton, BC.
Why would you recommend the Dauphin to other operators?
This machine has opened up a lot of new capabilities for us, and we look forward to discovering what else it can do in the future. Whenever people ride in the Dauphin, they tell us they feel like they’re riding in an airplane. It’s that smooth.