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    Royal Australian Navy accepts first two of 24 helicopters

    CANBERRA, Australia, Jan. 27 (UPI) -- The first two of 24 Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk Romeo maritime combat helicopters have been accepted in Florida by the Royal Australian Navy.

    The aircraft, which are capable of firing air-launched torpedoes and Hellfire missiles, were accepted Friday by a squadron of Australia's Fleet Air Arm, NUSQN 725, at U.S. Naval Air Station Jacksonville.

    "The MH-60R is a potent maritime combat helicopter that will primarily be used in the anti-submarine warfare role," said Cmdr. David Frost, commanding officer of NUSQN 725. "The MH-60R is a potent maritime combat helicopter that will primarily be used in the anti-submarine warfare role. The aircraft will also contribute to [the] navy's anti-surface warfare role by providing an air-to-surface missile capability."

    The MH-R has a twin-turboshaft engine and is based on Sikorsky's UH-60 Black Hawk. It has a maximum speed of 168 miles per hour, a range of 4,450 nautical miles and a ceiling of 12,000 feet.

    Australia's Department of Defense said five more MH-60Rs will be delivered to the navy this year.

  • #2
    Helicopter crewman departs New Zealand rescue service

    A long serving crewman with the Taranaki Community Rescue Helicopter is hanging up his flying gear. Phil Dwyer has been with the service since 2000 and will finish his tour of duty this week to pursue a business opportunity in Rarotonga with his partner, Desa, and their 2-year-old daughter Meila.

    Mr Dwyer had been involved with surf lifesaving from a young age and that experience gave him a foot in the door with the rescue service.

    "I started as a volunteer with the marine team, as a rescue swimmer, and have progressed from there to become a fully trained crewman," the 33-year-old said.

    "I enjoy doing positive things in the community and it's definitely rewarding."

    Mr Dwyer said he had been with the service during its highs and lows.

    "It was hard to be there during the low points. It's such a vital asset in the community and to potentially lose it was a bit worrying.
    "We've got the right machine to do all of the jobs now."

    He said while he'd been involved in many rescue operations, two would always stick in his mind - winching 10 people to safety from Paritutu Rock in August 2012 and locating and pulling the crew of a sunken fishing trawler to safety in December 2011.

    "I've had some pretty big jobs but that [Paritutu] is one I won't forget. It was a pretty intense three days, from winching the kids off the rock to trying to locate the missing three.

    "The stress was there because you knew that there were people missing in the water and you were trying to look for them while you were trying to winch the others to safety."

    The service's marine rescue crew received the New Zealand Search and Rescue Council's gold award for their efforts but Mr Dwyer said it wasn't about the awards. "At the end of the day being able to make a difference in someone's life - there is a lot of satisfaction in that."

    Mr Dwyer said he had mixed emotions about leaving.

    "It's hard to leave when everything is going really well and it's enjoyable."

    Trust chairman Bryce Barnett said Mr Dwyer would be missed.

    "I would have to say that Phil is probably one of the most passionate guys I have ever met. To me he created part of the heart of this organisation."

    An announcement about who would replace Mr Dwyer would be made in the near future, he said.
    Last edited by Aviafora Newsdesk; 28th January 2014, 17:57.


    • #3
      New Rotortech 2014 Show Lands in Australia

      The Australia Helicopter Industry Association (AHIA) has announced that the new Rotortech 2014 show will be held May 24-25 at the Novotel Twin Waters Resort in Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. Space is available for 20 small helicopters or 15 medium helicopters at the show site, according to the organizers, and there are 25 display booths for exhibitors in the main conference area, many of which have already been booked. The Rotortech 2014 show is AHIA’s first big show since the organization was founded in November 2012.

      Australia currently has about 2,077 helicopters on its register, the sixth largest fleet in the world, according to the AHIA. Since 2008, the fleet has grown an average of 6 percent per year. The current numbers include 1,301 piston singles, 544 single-engine turbines and 228 multi-engine helicopters, for a total of 13.7 percent of the Australian aircraft fleet.

      Growth in the helicopter industry is strongest in the northern territories, according to the AHIA, which boast about two thirds of the 2,077 helicopters in the country. These regions also have more than half of the air operators’ certificates (AOCs) issued by Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). Growth of the ranks of helicopter pilots has been strong over the past five years, with helicopter ATPs up 22 percent to 750, commercial pilots up 11 percent to 1,678 and private helicopter pilots up significantly, by 46 percent to 822. “The latter reflects the rapid growth of private helicopter owners; many conduct mustering operations on their properties or use them in business activities,” the AHIA noted in the January edition of Helicopters Australia, AHIA’s e-newsletter.

      “Unfortunately, we provide 25 percent of all accidents. This is the result from half our flying involves low-level aerial work, coupled with the high accident rate of the private owners–a problem noted in both aeroplane and helicopter operations.”

      Some of the issues that the AHIA is addressing this year include CASA’s transition toEASA rules. One key area of this effort is CASR Part 61 (flight-crew licensing). While that was supposed to take effect last December, CASA has moved the date to Sept. 1, 2014.AHIA is working closely with CASA on the transition. “It has a transition process of three years,” according to the AHIA, “requiring a restructure of the training industry. TheAHIA is working with CASA to help the Manual of Standards (MoS) line up with CASRPart 61. It is a large project that will not be completed until well into 2014.”

      Notices of proposed rulemaking are due this year for two key areas: CASR Part 133 (Australian air operations–rotorcraft) and CASR Part 138 (Aerial work operations–rotorcraft). The AHIA is concerned about carriage of aero-medical patients being moved from aerial work, which is the current regulatory structure, to charter. “This triggers a lot of additional compliance requirements. Aerial work operations will also be reclassified in some areas, with a new system of operation certificates replacing current AOCs…most requiring CASA’s approval.” Of more pressing concern, the AHIAadded, “are the proposed performance standards and their impact on flying operations and various categories of helicopters. CASA’s need to seek ‘harmonization’ with EASA’s rules is not understood and the need to have forced landing areas during some flight regimes, especially during takeoff and landing, is now subject to an AHIA working group to educate operators on the intent of the proposed legislation.”

      Rotortech 2014 promises to be a significant event on the worldwide air-show circuit and a kickoff for growing opportunities in the Australia helicopter market, which is expected to continue growing as energy and mineral resource development firms expand. [Rotortech 2014] “reflects the determination of the executive and growing membership to provide a strong and capable representative service on behalf of the helicopter industry during a period of strong growth,” the AHIA said.


      • #4
        Melbourne Airport Heli-Link Now Available

        There is no train to Melbourne Airport - but how about a helicopter?

        While the public waits not so patiently for the promised, but never delivered, rail link to Melbourne Airport, one entrepreneur has seen a market opportunity.

        Air Melbourne Heli-Express has launched what it believes is one of the first major city commuter services to an airport in the world with up to 40 flights a day between South Wharf and the airport. The five-minute journey, in the latest Italian-built twin-engined Agusta helicopters, which travel at about 311kmh, is a little more expensive than a taxi or SkyBus at $249 plus GST one way.

        Melbourne Airport chief executive Chris Woodruff said getting people to and from Melbourne Airport was now as important as airfield operations.

        He said the airport expected about 60 million passengers a year by 2030 and would need all forms of transports links to be working well.

        John Borg, from Air Melbourne, said the typical helicopter client was a busy executive, a frequent flyer, or someone time-poor, running late for a flight, or just wanting more time from their day.

        Mr Borg said the service was launched in December and was ''started due to identifying a gap in the existing transportation options''.

        Flights depart every 20 minutes in the peaks between 7am and 9am and 4pm and 6pm.

        Mr Borg said demand for the service spiked when there were delays on the freeway and that one of the key attractions of the helicopter service was certainty of arrival time.

        The helicopter lands at Mercedes-Benz Melbourne Airport Express helipad. A valet service to the terminal is included in the price.
        Mr Borg plans to expand the airport service with departure points at Moorabbin and Lilydale.

        Melbourne Airport, while supportive of the new helicopter initiative, would like improved mass transit links to Tullamarine. Mr Woodruff called on the state government to accelerate work on a rail link to the airport.

        ''We support the state government's Albion East alignment for the Melbourne Airport rail link, however, we'd like them to accelerate the timing of it. In the meantime, we need the Tullamarine Freeway widened to support all ground transport and a dedicated bus lane added to support public buses and Skybus,'' he said.

        A spokeswoman for Transport Minister Terry Mulder said Melbourne Airport was serviced by Sky Bus operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

        ''Detailed planning work is continuing on a rail line to Melbourne Airport,'' she said.

        ''Land reservations are already in place on the recommended route. A proposed timeframe for development of the rail link is part of long-term rail planning.''

        Asked how long the helicopter service to the airport would last, Mr Borg did not hesitate. ''As long as there is congestion.''


        • #5
          Helicopter Retrieval Network to Reshape NSW Fleet

          Rotary-wing aeromedical retrieval services in New South Wales, Australia, will undergo a major restructure this year with the closure at the end of March of the tender process for a new Helicopter Retrieval Network. The restructure is aimed at ensuring the service can cope with an expected 23 percent increase in demand by 2022.

          A fleet of 15 helicopters (10 operational and five back-up) of various types, including Bell 412s, Airbus Helicopters AS365N Dauphins and Kawasaki BK117s, operated by five service providers currently provide aeromedical retrieval services from eight bases in the state. Under the new Helicopter Retrieval Network, the NSW Government is seeking to standardize to two twin-engine types capable of accommodating two stretcher patients and three medical crew plus equipment, supporting two “super regions” – Northern Region and Southern Region. The restructure is designed to improve interoperability across the fleet, efficiency and cost effectiveness.

          An Ernst & Young review of the service in 2012, which prompted the restructure, showed that operating costs in 2011 were approximately A$112.1 million – or an average cost per retrieval of A$34,166, with 3,339 helicopter missions during the year. With the state’s population expected to grow by 15 percent over the next decade, missions are expected to reach 4,000 per annum by 2022.

          The new contracts, which will run from seven to 10 years, must encourage “innovation while delivering a consistent, fit-for-purpose fleet that optimizes the quality, safety and cost of rotary-wing retrieval”, says the state government.

          The tender process was launched late last year, with new contracts projected for signing at the end of this year.



          • #6
            A charter helicopter company in Western Australia has been grounded and its chief pilot removed from his position by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority

            CASA identified safety issues during an audit of Broome Helicopter Services, including poor record keeping, failure to comply with pilot flight and duty limitations, training for pilots, poor airworthiness control, overdue maintenance for aircraft and incorrect load control.

            In subsequent reviews, CASA determined the safety concerns had not been adequately fixed.

            During investigations last year, CASA learned the company's manager and chief pilot, Joseph Calandra, had directed junior and relatively inexperienced pilots to falsify operational records.

            CASA alleges some falsified records relate to a helicopter accident, aiming to prevent the company from being held accountable for non-compliance with safety regulations.

            Broome Helicopter Services was given the opportunity to respond to CASA's concerns but the authority found that appropriate changes were not made and so it cancelled the company's air operator certificate.

            The company can seek a review in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.


            • #7
              Australian Helicopters wins 10 year EMS contract with five AW139s

              Following a competitive tender process, one of Australia’s leading suppliers of mission-critical helicopter services, Australian Helicopters, has been awarded a 10-year contract with the Victorian Government and Ambulance Victoria.

              The agreement will see the supply of new state-of-the-art AgustaWestland AW-139 twin engine helicopters and includes a dedicated back-up aircraft to maintain services when heavy aircraft maintenance is required.

              Australian Helicopters presently operates two of the five Ambulance Victoria air ambulance helicopters, based in Warrnambool and Melbourne, and has supplied the service for the past five years.

              Australian Helicopters Managing Director, John Boag, said the contract was a major business win for the company and recognition that its services to Ambulance Victoria and the people of Victoria were of the highest possible standard.

              “We are extremely proud and excited to be awarded this contract by Ambulance Victoria,” said Mr Boag.

              “The internal dimensions of the AW-139 makes them the best choice for primary and secondary EMS applications and allows the transport for up to two stretcher patients if required.”

              “The aircraft are faster, can travel longer distances without refuelling and utilise state-of-the-art avionic technology.

              “We look forward to continuing our partnership with Ambulance Victoria and the Victorian Government to support the community over the next decade.”

              Ambulance Victoria CEO Greg Sassella said, “Ambulance Victoria is pleased to have contracted Australian Helicopters for the provision of these excellent helicopters and we look forward to continuing our solid relationship with them.”

              Australian Helicopters is part of the Avincis Group, one of the world’s leading providers of aviation services for mission-critical operations such as medical emergency, civil protection, search & rescue, coast and city surveillance, firefighting and energy support services.

              Richard Mintern, CEO Avincis - Northern Europe and Asia Pacific, said, “We are both delighted and honoured to be chosen by Ambulance Victoria to be part of their team for the next 10 years. Australian Helicopters’ highly experienced and locally focussed team, supported by the Avincis Group’s global resources, enables us to provide a high quality mission critical service that is customised to meet our client’s needs.”

              The new helicopters will be operational from January 2016 and be located at bases in Essendon, Warrnambool, the Latrobe Valley and Bendigo.

              Over the past 12 months Australian Helicopters have been awarded tenders for the National Aerial Firefighting Centre delivered through the South Australian Country Fire Service, the Central Queensland Rescue Service in Mackay and the Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service in Rockhampton, both part of the Queensland Government’s Emergency Helicopter Network.


              • #8
                CASA Floats Proposal for New Rules

                Helicopter operators would be required to conduct a pre-flight risk assessment if they undertake winching and rappelling operations during emergency medical operations under new rules being proposed by the aviation regulator.

                The Civil Aviation Safety Authority has issued a notice of proposed rule making (NPRM) covering changes to regulations covering external sling loads, winching and rappelling and is seeking industry comment by June 27.

                The proposed rules may be read here.


                • #9
                  MD900 Sling Incident in Queensland:

                  Although yet to be confirmed, this appears to be N900AF, listed to Rotor Force Australia.


                  • #10
                    Australian Helicopter Industry Airs Part 61 Concerns

                    The Australian Helicopter Industry Association (AHIA) is concerned that new Part 61 regulations will make it hard for some operators to remain in the industry.

                    AHIA President Peter Crook said the deadline for comments on the Aviation Safety Regulation Review (ASRR) was too close to the date Part 61 becomes effective.

                    “Although we are only a small segment of the aviation industry; we are facing enormous changes to ensure compliance with future rules now being developed by CASA," he said.

                    "The two main areas of immediate concern are training and passenger carrying activities. Some operators will have to re-equip their flight lines with modified or new machines to remain in the marketplace.

                    "The release of the ASRR by the Deputy Prime Minister is only the beginning of an anticipated long and slow process; comments from industry on the ASRR are due 30 June ’14.

                    "One problem were are monitoring closely is the new training regulations which come into force only four weeks after public comment on the ASRR finishes. The time lines for ‘soon to be implemented’ controversial new rules must be urgently reviewed to prevent further costly preparations in the face of a broader re-look at the unpopular regulatory reform process”.

                    Part 61 rules were initially due to commence on 4 December last year, but were delayed until 1 September this year because, according to CASA, the industry wasn't prepared.

                    In reality, it was CASA that was not prepared, a situation that was noted in the ASRR.


                    • #11
                      Australian Signs for Six AW139's

                      Australian Helicopters have signed a contract for six AW139 intermediate twin-engine helicopters to be operated by Ambulance Victoria under a 10 year agreement to perform Emergency Medical Service (EMS) missions.

                      Ambulance Victoria shall operate the aircraft in an EMS role in a 10 year agreement

                      The aircraft, which are expected to enter service in January 2016, will be based at Essendon, Bendigo, Latrobe Valley and Warrnambool airports. The new fleet will replace Ambulance Victoria’s present five helicopters and includes a dedicated back-up aircraft to maintain services when heavy aircraft maintenance is being performed.


                      • #12
                        New Zealand's HeliPro Goes Into Receivership

                        Rick Lucas Helicopters, which owns the red helicopter tourism company HeliPro, has been tipped into receivership by its director.

                        Sole director of the business Rick Lucas appointed PwC partners John Fisk and David Bridgman as receivers for the Palmerston North-based company and its related businesses, the accounting firm said in a statement.

                        New Zealand's HeliPro in receivership

                        The HeliPro business employs 70 people and has 35 helicopters across its eight New Zealand bases as well as in Australia and Fiji.

                        As well as running tourist flights, HeliPro also offers commercial services including fire-fighting, mining exploration, flight training and power line surveying and maintenance.

                        The receivers are looking to sell the business as a going concern either as a whole or in part. They were yet to determine the full value of the business.


                        • #13
                          Western Australia's Police Air Support Unit Left in the Lurch!

                          WA's two police helicopters have been grounded since Saturday after the sudden resignation of two senior pilots, leaving the State without eyes in the sky for chases, patrols and searches.

                          Assistant Commissioner Nick Anticich denied last night the resignations were linked to personality clashes within the police Air Wing, despite rumours of tension and infighting.

                          The departure of chief pilot Rohan Armstrong and deputy chief pilot Kenny Kross means that three of the unit's five pilot positions are now vacant.

                          Despite still having two pilots, the choppers cannot fly because under air safety laws the unit's air operator's certificate is held by the chief pilot rather than by the organisation.

                          One of Western Australia's two BK117 Police helicopters

                          Mr Anticich said police were due to hold urgent talks with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority this morning to try to find a solution that would enable the helicopters to return to the sky as soon as possible.

                          He said he hoped the air safety regulator would allow police to operate under a "private licence" until another pilot could be trained to fill the senior role.

                          Shadow police minister Michelle Roberts described the situation as "absolutely inexcusable" at a busy time of year.

                          "It is a really critical time of year to have all the crew available," she said.

                          "It's not just public safety that's put at risk because of something like this, it's also potentially the safety of officers on the ground.

                          "One of the things that Air Wing does is support officers on the ground, whether that's at an out-of-control party or during a car chase."

                          Mr Anticich denied the grounding created a safety risk.

                          "Generally the majority of the work for the police chopper is patrol and backing up the troops on the ground," he said.

                          "Rescue is not the primary police function.

                          "If resolving this issue takes an extended period of time, then we will operate using our fixed-wing aircraft and, if need be, we will hire another helicopter.

                          "Some of our optional patrolling would be limited because we don't have our helicopter in the air.

                          "But we can cover emergencies and the fixed-wing aircraft can do most of the things the helicopter does.

                          "We do this all the time when the helicopter is not in Perth or down for maintenance . . . we're not unfamiliar with supplementing the capability through other means."

                          Mr Anticich said police could also ask the Department of Fire and Emergency Services to use the rescue helicopter if it was part of a search-and-rescue incident.

                          The police helicopter also often directs officers on the ground during pursuits of stolen vehicles or fleeing offenders, helps search for people missing on land or in the water and has even pulled out cannabis plants from marshy or difficult-to-access bush.

                          In July, the police helicopter crew rescued a teenage hiker stranded on Bluff Knoll, winching the 18-year-old and a police rescue crewman to safety in the pitch-black in wet, windy conditions.

                          The risky rescue was prompted by fears the teen would not survive another night out in the freezing temperatures and afterwards, Capt. Kross said it had been some of the most extreme flying conditions he had experienced.

                          Mrs Roberts said police needed to focus on retaining staff in specialist areas.

                          Mr Anticich denied there were any cultural problems despite the three resignations, with the two senior officers leaving in quick succession.

                          "We've had one vacancy for some time and helicopter pilots are in high demand," he said.

                          "We'll be trying to fill the positions as soon as possible but the problem is identifying suitably qualified people who want to come to fly with the police service."

                          Mr Anticich said WA Police were not considering outsourcing the management of the Air Wing operations to a private company, similar to the way DFES and police in some other States had.

                          Police got a new $20 million WA police helicopter in May 2012 after several months of delays and problems.