Toowoomba chopper hits the road for repairs
The Toowoomba-based RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter, damaged when it was struck by an unmanned ute on the weekend, is today being transported by road from near Warwick to Redcliffe and Brisbane for repairs.
The Bell 412 helicopter suffered damage to its left horizontal elevator and VOR antenna on Friday night when it was struck by a runaway ute after the chopper had landed at the Gap Creek motorbike park to airlift an injured motorcross rider.
With the helicopter grounded, a Queensland Ambulance vehicle transported the rider in his mid-20s to Warwick Hospital where they were met by the Brisbane-based RACQ LifeFlight Rescue crew. The patient was then airlifted to Toowoomba Hospital in a stable condition.
Police believe a faulty handbrake may have been the cause of the ute rolling out of control, down a slope where it collided with the helicopter’s tail boom.
LifeFlight engineers decided it was safer to transport the helicopter by road transport, which required the removal of the main rotor blades and tail rotor blade.
The RACQ LifeFlight rescue helicopter will first be taken to Heliwork at Redcliffe, an aircraft maintenance facility, for structural inspection and later to LifeFlight’s maintenance base at Archerfield.
Once the full extent of the damage is known, LifeFlight will consult with the manufacturer, Bell, about the most appropriate repair plan.
The cost of the damage isn’t yet known, although LifeFlight is covered by insurance.
The life-saving helicopter rescue service is being maintained in the Toowoomba region with a replacement Bell 412 which was flown from Archerfield on Saturday, as well as the Roma-based Surat Gas Aero-Medical Service (SGAS).