North Coast

Magnificant Milestone – 10,000 Flying Hours in the AW139

Every hour that the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service is in the air it is done so with pride.

However, a significant milestone was achieved on Saturday afternoon June 12, with the Service officially reaching 10,000 flying hours in the AgustaWestland (AW139) aeromedical aircraft which were introduced in 2017.

‘Hitting 10,000 flight hours means much more than a number to us, it signifies a huge accomplishment of work by all of our staff across each of our four bases, and I would like to take this opportunity to recognise our dedicated engineers, incredible Pilots and Aircrew Officers as well as the NSW Ambulance Critical Care Paramedics and NSW Health Doctors and Nurses who are integral to our daily life saving work,’ CEO Richard Jones said.

‘Each time an aircraft is needed, there is an expert team of ground personnel who have ensured the aircraft can safely perform to the highest standard,’ he said.

The maintenance of aircraft is paramount and ‘deep level’ or ‘heavy’ maintenance is a critical element of the Service’s operations. Aircraft maintenance is required at different intervals. This can be driven by Flight Hours (FH) for items in constant operation (transmissions, engines etc.), Flight Cycles (FC) for items operated once or twice in flight (landing gear/rescue hoist) and Calendar Time (CT) for items exposed whether operated or not (fire extinguishers, floats, medical flooring, energy attenuating flight seats).

In addition to base Engineers at Belmont, Tamworth and Lismore the Service also operates a Deep Level Maintenance facility at Broadmeadow (Newcastle), with Engineers completing 300, 600, 1,200 hourly inspections as well as 4 yearly inspection services on the aircraft.

‘Aircraft maintenance is an area of our Service that is not often seen, however it is integral. It is not just our Aircrew & medical teams who are on call 24-7, our Engineers are also on standby to ensure we can deliver the highest standard of care for our community,’ Mr Jones added.

‘To achieve 10,000 flying hours’ means that regular daily maintenance must be carried out on all 4 aircraft. Along with the daily line maintenance, there have been 34 heavy maintenance events that have taken place since 2017. These heavy maintenance events range from 2 weeks up to 6 weeks to complete,’ Jones said.

‘To date, in addition to the regular support provided to our operational bases, we’ve completed a total of 120 weeks of heavy maintenance at Broadmeadow since commencement of the AW139 flight operations.’

Fittingly, the milestone was reached on a day when all three bases were called to missions. Aircraft from Belmont, Lismore and Tamworth were tasked to assist people in Tenterfield, Port Macquarie, Tabulam, Dyer’s Crossing, Lismore, Upper Hunter, Howes Valley, Wyong and a second time to Port Macquarie throughout the day.

This is a team achievement that will be shared by all, but what’s most important is that we made a difference to people in our community today. That’s what drives us all and we never lose sight of that’ Jones added.

‘Thank you to our incredible supporters across Northern NSW who have helped us reach this milestone, keeping our Service in the air is a team effort which is only made possible thanks to the generosity of our community,’ Jones said.