RACQ LifeFlight Rescue, August 02, 2020 - by Natalie Weyman - LifeFlight Australia has reached a major milestone, clocking up 10 thousand flying hours in its fleet of Leonardo AW139 helicopters.
The aeromedical service, which has a forty year history of saving lives in Queensland, Australia, operates ten RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopters - including five AW139s.
One month shy of the five year anniversary of its first AW139 taking off on its maiden mission for LifeFlight, the service officially ticked over ten thousand hours, during a night shift earlier this week.
"Reaching ten thousand flying hours is a reflection of what can be achieved when you pair some of the world's best aircraft with highly skilled aviation specialists," said LifeFlight Chief Executive Officer Ashley van de Velde.
"The AW139 is a proven helicopter, operating in more than 80 countries; they have spent millions of hours in the air. They're versatile and suit the varying environments in which we work and the wide-ranging missions undertaken by our teams."
After the first AW139 took to the air over Queensland in 2015, LifeFlight added another, later that year, with more 139s joining the fleet in 2016 and 2018. Each of the helicopters is fitted out for search and rescue, winching and aeromedical retrieval. Typically, they are crewed with a pilot, co-pilot or aircrew officer, an RACQ LifeFlight Rescue Critical Care Doctor and a Flight Nurse or Paramedic.
"The size and versatility of the AW139s has essentially allowed us to turn these aircraft into flying intensive care units. The configuration of the 139s and the medical staff on board enables us to start treating injured or sick people while on scene and in-transit," said Mr van de Velde.
RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopters operate out of six bases, three of which are AW139 bases. Due to the nature of the taskings assigned to them, the Brisbane-based aeromedical crews clock up the most flying hours.
The chopper fleet, which also includes three Bell 412s, a BK117 and an AS350 performed more than 2000 missions last financial year. The five Leonardo AW139 are rotated through out the bases, depending on operational needs and engineering schedules.
"This ten thousand hour milestone is a testament to our incredible team of LifeFlight engineers and crews along with all of our support staff who contribute to the success of our operations," said Mr van de Velde. "We are extremely proud of this ten thousand hour achievement."
About RACQ LifeFlight: 2019-2020 was a record financial year for RACQ LifeFlight Rescue’s community helicopters, air ambulance jets and Critical Care Doctors performing 6,333 lifesaving missions.
The LifeFlight Rescue helicopters are part of the Emergency Helicopter Network (EHN) and respond to retrieval and rescue missions, tasked by Retrieval Services Queensland, which is managed by Queensland Health. A service agreement with the Queensland Government, community fundraising, the sponsorship of RACQ and innovative profit-for-purpose social enterprises all contribute to pay for this vital service, which is provided at no cost to patients, however, RACQ LifeFlight Rescue relies on the community to help make up nearly 30 per cent of funding each year. LifeFlight is committed to preserving the privacy of all those we serve. This means we set limits on the information we include in media statements, to ensure we preserve privacy. Thank you for your interest in our work.