New Land Rover LifeFlight Special Mission chopper goes above and beyond

A new, highly advanced, specially configured helicopter, designed to take on the most challenging missions, is operational and ready to respond around the clock, to emergencies anywhere in Australia.

The Land Rover LifeFlight Special Mission helicopter was unveiled today, with crew performing a mock winch rescue and demonstrating some of the aircraft’s advanced capabilities.

The Land Rover LifeFlight Special Mission helicopter is a fully integrated aircraft, which can operate in extreme situations – from offshore in the wildest ocean conditions, to the most rugged and hostile inland environments.

The human-machine interface, aircraft type, specialist mission equipment, technology, experienced aeromedical crews, location and availability all combine to make the Land Rover LifeFlight Special Mission helicopter the only aircraft of its type, available for immediate deployment by civil agencies, in Australia and beyond.

“The Land Rover LifeFlight Special Mission helicopter is dedicated to emergency response, such as Search and Rescue (SAR), law enforcement, fire-fighting support, surveillance, aeromedical and disaster response operations,” said LifeFlight Commercial Director Yvette Lutze.

The chopper and crew will be based at LifeFlight’s Archerfield West facility, in Brisbane.

“Lifeflight has served Queenslanders for more than forty years. Our RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopters and jets keep our remote and regional communities connected to the highest levels of health care.  To be able to offer an aircraft of this calibre, with its impressive capabilities, to respond to emergency situations anywhere in our state or across Australia; it’s an important milestone for aviation services in Queensland,” said LifeFlight Commercial Chairman Hon. Jim Elder. 

Every detail of the aircraft is specifically designed for emergency response deployment. 

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.

“It’s one of only a few in the country which 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,” said Land Rover LifeFlight Special Mission Chief Pilot Paul Forcier.

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 the remote possibility of equipment failure, will not jeopardise the mission. There is always a back-up,” said Paul Forcier.

The Forward Looking Infra-Red (FLIR) is the crew’s all-seeing eye-in-the-sky, which is able to pick up heat signatures from over water, or land.

“The FLIR can ‘lock on’ to the heat signature and allow us to follow the person, even if they can’t be seen or they’re moving – maybe caught in swift water or running from danger on the ground, or even trying to outrun law enforcement” Paul Forcier said.

“It’s a huge technological advantage, when rescuing multiple people who are moving, or in low visibility conditions – for example a group of people dispersed in the water from an overturned vessel.”

The newly announced, dedicated Special Mission service, draws on the skills of LifeFlight’s aviation, engineering and medical crews, and the organisation’s more than four decades of aeromedical service, SAR and emergency response operations.

The Land Rover LifeFlight Special Mission helicopter is currently on stand-by to undertake missions on behalf of Australian emergency response agencies and is also available for private commercial charter.

“This aircraft not only excels in Search and Rescue situations. It can be very quickly reconfigured to suit any emergency response requirement. The crew can use the on-board technology to pick up hot spots before bushfires flare out of control, or to find survivors amongst the devastation of natural disasters.  It has the capability to help communities in the aftermath of fire, flood and other catastrophic events,” said Yvette Lutze.

Land Rover Australia revealed its new LifeFlight Defenders; the Defender 110 sets new standards for toughness and capability, with a 900mm maximum wading depth and Terrain Response 2, which combine to deliver unrivalled driver confidence when fording water.

With a maximum payload of 900kg and up to 300kg static roof load combined with a 3500kg towing capacity, the new Defender is the ultimate 4×4 to partner with LifeFlight.

Jaguar Land Rover Managing Director, Mark Cameron, said the brand is proud to partner with an esteemed and reputable organisation, which shares like-minded values and common goals for the future.

“Like Land Rover, LifeFlight have an unrivalled commitment to going above and beyond, both in terms of excellence and innovation, and more broadly in the organisation’s decades long and proven dedication to servicing Queensland and beyond,” said Mr Cameron.

“We are proud to partner with a like-minded organisation and offer our support to the Land Rover LifeFlight Special Mission chopper which will now offer a first of its kind rescue operation servicing Australian communities, across land, air and sea.

“We remain committed to playing our role in supporting these communities at large, and in partnership with LifeFlight rescue services, we look forward to a long and impactful relationship setting the benchmark for future rescue operations,” added Mr Cameron.

The Land Rover LifeFlight Special Mission helicopter is a Leonardo AW139 which can fly up to 270 km/h, travel over 800 kilometres before refuelling, and airlift up to 2,200 kg.

The Land Rover LifeFlight Special Mission helicopter can:

– Perform a full range of emergency response missions

– Perform Search and Rescue (SAR) operations up to 400 kilometres offshore, night or day

– Fly and perform missions in extreme weather conditions, night or day

– “Lock on” to heat signatures to find missing people

– Automatically hover above and track survivors, even if they are moving

– Track survivors in real time, even if they can’t be seen with the naked eye

– Locate debris or wreckage that can’t be seen with the naked eye

– Reach flying speed of up to 270 km/hour

– Airlift up to 2, 200 kg