The South Australian government has committed $150 million to a contract extension with Babcock Australasia, that will see two new State Rescue Helicopter Service (SRHS) helicopters online before the end of 2024, as well as four new dedicated pilots and an extra available line of flying for emergency response.
"Babcock is proud to work in partnership with the South Australian Government to provide critical rotary wing emergency air ambulance and search and rescue operations," said Andrew Cridland, CEO of Babcock Australasia.
"Babcock’s new four-year contract and the addition of a fourth helicopter to our fleet means we will be able to provide even greater support to the South Australian community."
The SRHS is shared between SA Police (SAPOL) and SA Ambulance Service (SAAS) to provide critical emergency response across the state.
The existing 30-year-old SAPOL helicopter will be replaced by a new twin-engine SAPOL Airbus H145 D3, which will arrive by July 2024.
SAAS will receive a Bell 412 EP to be configured for medical operations. It will arrive in December 2024 due to its contract; however other Bell 412 aircraft will be available for use in the interim.
The investment will also see four additional pilots hired to provide a third line of flying for 24/7 operations, meaning three helicopters can be airborne at once if required, mitigating operational impacts associated with regulations on flying multiple aircraft types and provide more operational capability.
"Our government has delivered on a comprehensive extension to the State Rescue Helicopter Service that will both prevent crime and save lives," said Joe Szakacs, Minister for Police and Emergency Services.
"Similarly for our hard-working specialist paramedics, and MedSTAR doctors and nurses, the additional helicopter delivered in this investment will allow for better resourcing during times of need and relieve demand on the service."