The Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service (WRHS) clocked up a significant milestone at the weekend when the AgustaWestland (AW139) fleet officially registered 10,000 flying hours.
Introduced in 2017, the aeromedical aircraft hit the mark on Saturday afternoon (12 June).
Fittingly, it was reached when all three bases were called to missions.
Aircraft from Belmont, Lismore and Tamworth were tasked to assist people in Tenterfield, Port Macquarie, Tabulam, Dyers Crossing, Lismore, Upper Hunter, Howes Valley, Wyong and a second time to Port Macquarie throughout the day.
“This is a team achievement that will be shared by all, but what’s most important is that we made a difference to people in our community today,” proud CEO Richard Jones OAM said.
“That’s what drives us all and we never lose sight of that.
“Thank you to our incredible supporters across Northern NSW who have helped us reach this milestone, keeping our service in the air is an effort, which is only made possible thanks to the generosity of our community.”
The WRHS feat represents a huge accomplishment of work by all of the staff across each of the four bases – Belmont, Tamworth, Lismore and Broadmeadow, too, according to Mr Jones.
“I would like to take this opportunity to recognise our dedicated engineers, incredible pilots and aircrew officers as well as the NSW Ambulance Critical Care paramedics and NSW Health doctors and nurses who are integral to our daily life saving work,” he said.
“Each time an aircraft is needed, there is an expert team of ground personnel who have ensured the aircraft can safely perform to the highest standard.”
Mr Jones said the upkeep of the aircraft was paramount and “deep level” of the service’s operations.
“Aircraft maintenance is required at different intervals,” he explained.
“This can be driven by Flight Hours (FH) for items in constant operation (transmissions, engines etc), Flight Cycles (FC) for items operated once or twice in flight (landing gear/rescue hoist) and Calendar Time (CT) for items exposed whether operated or not (fire extinguishers, floats, medical flooring, energy attenuating flight seats).
“In addition to base engineers at Belmont, Tamworth and Lismore, the WRHS also operates a Deep Level Maintenance facility at Broadmeadow.
“There, engineers complete 300, 600, 1,200 hourly inspections as well as four-yearly inspection services on the aircraft.
“It’s an area of our service that is not often seen.
“However, it is integral.
“It is not just our aircrew and medical teams who are on call 24-7, our engineers are also on standby to ensure we can deliver the highest standard of care for our community.
“To achieve 10,000 flying hours means that regular daily maintenance must be carried out on all four aircraft.
“Along with the daily line maintenance, there have been 34 heavy maintenance events that have taken place since 2017.
“These could range from a fortnight up to six weeks to complete.
“To date, in addition to the regular support provided to our operational bases, we’ve completed a total of 120 weeks of heavy maintenance at Broadmeadow, too.”