Westpac chopper busy during Christmas, New Year period

LOOKING UP: The new chopper fleet has more speed and endurance. Photo: Peter Hardin 221217PHC068
LOOKING UP: The new chopper fleet has more speed and endurance. Photo: Peter Hardin 221217PHC068

A fall from a flying fox, a beacon search for bushwalkers and a paragliding accident were among the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service’s 35 missions in 11 days over the Christmas and New Year period.

Spokesman Barry Walton said the service had flown those missions from its three bases in Belmont, Tamworth and Lismore.

Mr Walton said the WRHS had “covered off on quite an array” of tasks during the holiday break.

“The varying missions included motor vehicle, motor bike and dirt bike accidents; swimming incidents; yachting; falls from roof, ladder and flying fox; horse incidents; para- and hang-gliding; a beacon search for bushwalkers in the Gibraltar range; along with medical transfers,” he said.

“The Christmas and New Year’s period has been a busy time for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter across northern NSW.”

Mr Walton said the region was benefiting from the introduction last year of the new Augusta Westland AW139 helicopters.

“There’s more endurance, a bit more speed ... retractable wheels which give better airflow,” he said.

“The rotor system on top is five-bladed and the tail is four-bladed; that gives a bit more speed to aircraft performance.

“It’s been been designed for aeromedical as well as offshore work.”

Mr Walton said the aircraft combined had reached more than 2000 engine hours since the fleet upgrade began in March 2017.

“We’re on call now 24/7, and each helicopter has a pilot, crewman, doctor and paramedic on board, there for the benefit of the community,” he said.

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