Operations

The Rescue Helicopters operate from three bases at Belmont Airport (Newcastle), Lismore Airport and Tamworth Airport. Deep maintenance, engineering and administration are at Broadmeadow (Newcastle).

At each base there are hangar and engineering facilities, crew accommodation and office space for staff. The bases also include refueling and maintenance facilities. The Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service operates four AW139 helicopters between the three operational bases. Note: headquarters at Broadmeadow will hold the fourth spare aircraft and is also the deep maintenance base. The AW139 is a modern twin engine helicopter with advanced flight management and autopilot systems. The helicopter is single pilot operated and supported by a crew person, with a doctor and paramedic providing medical expertise for primary missions.

AW139 Helicopters

The Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service has a fleet of four twin-engine AW139 helicopters. These helicopters have been fitted out with state of the art aeromedical and flight equipment.

AW139 Information

The AW139 is an Italian-built, state-of-the-art, multi-role helicopter. It is an Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), all weather capable helicopter that has a five-blade main rotor, a four-blade tail rotor and retractable wheeled tricycle landing gear. One of the most technologically advanced EMS platforms, the AW139 surpasses all other medium twin-engine helicopters in operational range, performance and power. Its flight management system allows for the most complex weather and navigation problems to be more simply resolved. This makes it ideal for the challenging and varied conditions and environments of New South Wales. The AW139 is rescue winch equipped and has night vision goggle technology and capability. With the largest passenger cabin in its class, it has the space and performance to carry two stretchers and two seated patients.

AW139 Benefits

  • Increased speed, range, edurance
  • Improved internal and external communications systems
  • Improved Rescue Hoist with new safety and operating features as well as extended cable length
  • New and enhanced safety features increasing survivability rates for patients and crew in an accident/incident
  • Increased patient comfort - smoother ride, reduced internal noise levels, improved air-conditioning
  • Ability to maintain flight through all flight conditions should one engine be lost
  • Increased cabin and cargo space size
  • Ergonomic cabin design increasing work flow and space utilization for crew
  • Lower noise signature that reduces noise impact on the public
  • Patient loading system ensuring no lifting is undertaken by the crew -  reducing injuries and incidents to crew/patient
  • Redundancy and backup systems for avionics, hydraulics, fuel and electrical systems
  • State of the art main rotor gearbox with 30-minute endurance during loss of oil situation  

Specifications

  • Capacity: 2 patients / 2 Neo Natal cots
  • Maximum speed: 310 km/hr
  • Cruising speed: 260 km/hr  
  • Range: 780 km
  • Endurance: 2.5 hours
  • Power plant: 2 × turboshaft engine
  • Fuel capacity: 1270 kg
  • Fuel burn: 420 kg/hr - 7 kg/min
  • Maximum weight: 7000 kg
  • Service ceiling: 6,096 m  
  • Rate of climb: 10.9 m/s
  • Features: Improved hoist, patient loading system and aircraft safety
  • Redundancy & backup: Systems for avionics, hydraulics, fuel and electrical

On board

There are a number of jobs on board the Rescue Helicopter. Each person has a dedicated job to ensure that missions are safe and efficient. The pilot sits on the right-hand side of the aircraft and is responsible for flying the aircraft. The Service has a team of highly experienced pilots that have worked in the military and private sectors all around the world. Each pilot must undertake ongoing training and assessments annually.

Aircrew

The crew person operates from the front left-hand seat assisting the pilot with communication, navigation. For landings and winching the crew person relocates to the rear of the aircraft to operate the winch and provide the pilot with accurate clearances

Paramedics

Provide specialist first response trauma medical care and can be winched to patients. They also conduct the role of rescue swimmer. There are 16 paramedics that work as part of the NSW Ambulance Service helicopter paramedic system.  They are specially trained in all aspects of helicopter operations and form an integral part of the crew.

And on the ground

Critical to the efficiency of the Rescue Helicopters and their crews is the team of engineers who provide ongoing and scheduled maintenance work on all helicopters. Aeromedical helicopters are required to undertake strict testing and maintenance procedures regularly.