Philip Smart | Adelaide
Helicopter operator CHC Group has begun a 15-month contract to provide aviation emergency response services from Nowra on behalf of the RAN.
CHC will operate an Agusta Westland AW139 helicopter, providing interim search and rescue, aeromedical evacuation (AME) and crash response services from HMAS Albatross until the proposed commencement of an ADF wide contract in 2018. The AW139 previously operated search and rescue services in the UK and is equipped with autohover, an autopilot function which assists in station keeping during rescue winch operations and reduces pilot workload on search missions
“The signing of the new navy contract means CHC now provides emergency services to all three forces”
CHC has provided aeromedical and search and rescue services across the RAAF since 1989. The current fleet of five Sikorsky S76 helicopters has been in place since 2004, providing support from the main RAAF training bases at Williamtown, East Sale, Pearce and Tindal. The Air Force’s requirements included 95 per cent availability, five minutes from alert to launch at the major bases and 24-hour coverage. It also provided for support from two other SAR helicopters for exercises from forward bases such as RAAF Bases Townsville, Scherger or Learmonth, and SAR coverage for major exercises and visiting international detachments.
In 2016 the RAAF exercised the final two-year extension to the contract, which means the ADF must soon go to market for a replacement, with CHC or a new operator expected to be contracted from late 2018.
Industry insiders suggest the training requirements for the ADF’s plethora of new aircraft such as the F-35 Lightning II, EA-18G Growler, P-8A Poseidon, C-27J Spartan and MH-60R Romeo helicopters have prompted a move to a larger, ADF-wide service for the next contract.
In September 2016 CHC signed a 21-month contract to provide the Australian Army with aeromedical evacuation (AME) and crash response support for deployments throughout Australia, using the current Sikorsky S76 fleet and Bell 412 helicopters. The signing of the new navy contract means CHC now provides emergency services to all three forces