Lifeflight takes mega rescue chopper from Coast

LIFEFLIGHT has taken the $18m AW139 rescue helicopter away from the Sunshine Coast only months after it was commissioned and named after community rescue service stalwart Don Moffatt.
LIFEFLIGHT has taken the $18m AW139 rescue helicopter away from the Sunshine Coast only months after it was commissioned and named after community rescue service stalwart Don Moffatt.

LIFELIGHT has confirmed that the AW139 mega-rescue helicopter based at Sunshine Coast Airport will be relocated just months after its arrival.

The $18m aircraft was named the Don Moffatt to honour the long service by Don Moffatt as a director of the Sunshine Coast Rescue Helicopter Service.

LifeFlight says the AW139 would be repositioned elsewhere in the fleet but would not confirm if that would be to Roma as part of a commercial contract with the gas sector.

"LifeFlight has decided to make changes to the configuration of its south-east Queensland fleet, following a review of its rescue helicopter operations," Lifeflight Chief Operating Officer Brian Guthrie said in a statement in response to questions from the Sunshine Coast Daily.

"The review will mean a twin-engine Bell 412EP, currently in its fleet, will be moved to the Maroochydore base which is the best operational fit for the Sunshine Coast region at this stage, replacing the AW139 which will be repositioned elsewhere in the fleet.

"No decision has been made yet on where the 139 will be relocated."

Only in February this year Mr Guthrie praised the AW139 as a perfect fit for the region saying it created real lifesaving benefits for the Queensland community with its speed and efficiency along with the capacity to deliver world class air medical patient care.

"The 139 is a faster aircraft which means we can get to our patients quicker and transport them to advanced specialist care quicker," Mr Guthrie said.  

"With a sophisticated emergency medical service fitout, patients will also receive better medical care from our expert medical crew while they're in the air."

On Monday, Mr Guthrie said the Bell 412 was widely regarded as one of the best and most flexible emergency services aircraft in the world.

It was the same model as the helicopter now based at the LifeFlight Bundaberg base.

"There is engineering and logistics support benefits in having common aircraft in the region," he said.

"The Bell 412 aircraft for the Sunshine Coast will be configured for full SAR (Search and Rescue) capability with floats and extra fuel to increase its safety for searches over water."

Mr Guthrie said LifeFlight was confident there would be no impact on patient care or patient safety in the Sunshine Coast region with the aircraft swap.

Gladstone meanwhile would continue to go without its own emergency response helicopter with Mr Guthrie said it was well-serviced by RACQ LifeFlight's community helicopter rescue service at Bundaberg and the RACQ Capricorn Rescue service based in Rockhampton.

"As part of the emergency helicopter network, Queensland Health has never had a community rescue helicopter based at Gladstone," he said.

"LifeFlight had a commercial contract for three years for a Bell 412 helicopter to cater for the 5000 employees working on the Curtis Island project.

"The reduction in the workforce there meant the service wasn't required as of September, 2016."

Topics:  don moffatt lifeflight maroochydore sunshine coast airport

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