Wide Bay residents are familiar with the sight and sound of the iconic blue and yellow Bundaberg RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter performing missions in the region, but today it was the roar of another LifeFlight chopper, which echoed over Maryborough.
The Land Rover LifeFlight Special Mission helicopter made a special stop at the airport, for refuelling from an iOR fuel truck, giving locals the opportunity to see the latest, high-tech addition to the LifeFlight fleet.
“Every detail of this aircraft is specifically designed for emergency response operations and other special missions – from the positioning of the grab rails and handles, to the fully integrated technology and capability such as Search and Rescue Modes, Auto Hover and the Forward Looking Infra-Red camera,” said LifeFlight Head of Flying Operations David Bashir.
The Special Mission helicopter complements the capabilities of LifeFlight’s rescue and aeromedical helicopters.
The Bundaberg-based RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter flew 286 missions last financial year.
“We are so fortunate to have LifeFlight in the Wide Bay,” said LifeFlight Wide Bay Burnett Regional Advisory Committee member David Hay.
“We have the Bundaberg rescue helicopter available every hour of the day if our residents are in an emergency, or need to be airlifted to a higher level of health care and we also have this Special Mission helicopter ready to respond to larger scale emergency situations.”
The Land Rover LifeFlight Special Mission helicopter is a fully integrated, specially configured aircraft, designed to take on the most challenging emergency response operations, from offshore in the wildest ocean conditions, to the most rugged and hostile inland environments.
The aircraft is an AW139 and can fly up to 270 kph, airlift up to 2,200 kg and allow rescue crews to respond to different types of emergencies including aeromedical, disaster management, fire-fighting and law enforcement support, plus Search and Rescue (SAR).
“It is one of the few aircraft in Australia, equipped and crewed to perform missions up to 400 kilometres offshore, including winch rescues, even at night,” said David Bashir.
“We can descend at night and maintain a hover at 50 feet. The auto hover can lock the machine in position over a survivor, even if the survivor is moving with a tide, or being lifted up and down in rough seas.”
Dual hoists are a vital feature which allow the aircraft to go above and beyond most other emergency response choppers.
“The dual hoist is critical for performing winch rescues at long distances out to sea, when you need to ensure there is always a back-up winch,” said David Bashir.
The Land Rover LifeFlight Special Mission helicopter made today’s stop as it headed back to Brisbane after an operation supporting a military training exercise.
The aircraft will be quickly reconfigured and ready to respond to a call to action anywhere in Australia, including the Wide Bay region.
“Sadly, we are all too familiar with flooding and disaster. With storm season already upon us, it is more important than ever that – on top of the already highly capable Bundaberg RACQ LifeFlight Rescue crew – the region is provided with the best possible aeromedical and rescue response. LifeFlight supports the Wide Bay and our community supports LifeFlight,” said David Hay.