LifeFlight takes maintenance of ‘hero gear’ to the highest level

LifeFlight Australia’s fleet of rescue helicopters are well-known for saving lives, but that process begins with engineering and the Archerfield-based operation has recently added another feather, to its already well-decorated cap.   

LifeFlight Engineering was recently granted approval, by Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), to be the only Approved Maintenance Organisation (AMO) which can carry out and certify work on a large range of helicopter and rescue crew equipment.

Engineering Operations Manager, Michael Dopking, said it’s another significant milestone in the growth and capability of LifeFlight Engineering.

“LifeFlight is the only AMO in Australia to have been granted such a wide-ranging approval.”

Mr Dopking colloquially refers to the specialised equipment as ‘hero gear.’

“The hero gear includes all the equipment pilots, aircrew officers and medical staff wear – and use – while on a mission,” he said.

The list includes helmets, life vests, rescue baskets and strops, harnesses for crew, passengers and children, rescue litters, emergency Egress Breathing Systems (EBS) as well as winching harnesses and restraint straps. 

Any staff member who flies on a rescue aircraft, be it RACQ LifeFlight Rescue, LifeFlight Surat Gas Aeromedical Service or Land Rover LifeFlight, will use hero gear.

The new CASA certification led LifeFlight to employ specialist Aircraft Safety Equipment Engineer, Simon Jamieson.

Until now, a lot of the ‘hero gear’ had to be sent to various external workshops, around Australia, to undergo repairs, but that is a thing of the past.

Mr Jamieson has a dedicated workshop at LifeFlight’s Heavy Maintenance Facility, at Archerfield Airport and will also be roving to bases across Queensland, to conduct repairs and provide support to flight crews, as well as education on how to best look after their gear.

There are nearly six hundred pieces of ‘hero gear’ equipment, in LifeFlight’s inventory. 

“That includes more than 200 flight helmets, which are valued at around $3,500 each,” Mr Jamieson said.

LifeFlight Retrieval Medicine Director of Clinical Services and Governance, Dr Mark Edwards, said the sharing of expert advice has already proven valuable to the Critical Care Doctors, employed by the organisation.

“Jamo [Simon] is known as the helmet guru and our staff especially appreciate the expertise he shares about the care and use of flight helmets,” Dr Edwards said.

 While obtaining CASA approval, for the correct maintenance of all the gear, was not necessary, Mr Dopking said it is just another example of LifeFlight Engineering striving to be the best.

“Establishing the process, procedures and applying the same standards CASA expect for the maintenance of the aircraft, to all the hero gear, means all LifeFlight equipment is maintained to the highest standards.”