Thursday, August 24, 2023
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
Taking to the skies with their sights set on delivering superior performance and unmatched safety, RACQ CQ Rescue has signed a $45 million contract with Leonardo to acquire two AW139 rescue helicopters, which are set to revolutionise emergency response operations in the greater Mackay region.
The announcement was made amid the glitz and glamour of the Avalon Air Show in Melbourne, leaving aviation enthusiasts and rescue service aficionados alike buzzing with excitement.
The AW139s are expected to significantly enhance the rescue helicopter service's capabilities, enabling it to cover longer distances at greater speeds to reach patients in remote and rural communities, thanks to its superior avionics, cutting-edge technology and exceptional safety features.
Locally, the special announcement was made to sponsors, supporters and community delegates at the RACQ CQ Rescue hangar at the Mackay Airport last week, where it was revealed that the crew are ecstatic that the new choppers will include air-conditioning.
The two state-of-the-art modern helicopters, which set the benchmark in performance, safety and innovation, will replace the workhorse Bell 412 models currently in use and enable CQ Rescue to reach patients in remote and rural communities faster than ever before.
CEO Tim Healee said the AW139s would hugely increase the speed, range and capabilities of our region's rescue helicopter service, which is partly funded by the community.
“The aeromedical service we deliver and the type of missions we complete are unique, being very time consuming and over long distances,” he said.
“The AW139s will deliver enormous benefits to our service including state-of-the-art avionics, superior performance, proven technology and exceptional safety features.”
Mr Healee said the AW139 was one of the most reliable platforms in the industry. The two aircraft would be configured jointly for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Search and Rescue (SAR) missions.
“These new aircraft will enable our crew to fly twice as far and about 30% faster to reach patients in dire need in remote and rural locations, so it’s an enormous coup for our community."
The two new aircraft are now in production in Italy and are expected to arrive in Mackay in mid-2024.
Mr Healee said the purchase would assure the longevity of the rescue service in Central Queensland and was testament to sound long-term financial management and investment by the board of directors and ongoing community support in the service.
"The plan is to finance these helicopters over the next 10 years, which means we will be more reliant on our community support than ever before," he said.
"But we are also giving back to our supporters and this community by providing the best technology there is in the aeromedical industry."
RACQ Head of Advocacy Joshua Cooney said two AW139s for the Mackay-based rescue helicopter service would strengthen the lifesaving care provided to communities across Central and North Queensland.
“Having access to faster, more advanced and reliable aeromedical aircraft is crucial when every minute counts,” Mr Cooney said.
“RACQ has proudly supported CQ Rescue as a naming rights sponsor since 2001 and there’s never been a time when this service is more needed. We thank our RACQ members for helping us to ensure CQ Rescue’s emergency medical care is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”
The $45 million contract for two AW139s was announced at the Avalon Air Show last week, Pictured are Leonardo representatives from left Paolo Alzetta, Roberto Macchiavello and John Skeen, RACQ CQ Rescue CEO Tim Healee, board member Bert Sadleir and Diego Di Sabatino. Seated from left is Vincenzo Alaimo and CQ Rescue board chairman Chris Wright. Photo Supplied: RACQ CQ Rescue
RACQ CQ Rescue held a special function at its operational headquarters at the Mackay Airport last week to announce the arrival of two new helicopters to the rescue service, in 2024. Photos supplied: RACQ CQ Rescue