WESTPAC Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter engineers Craig Hamilton and Heath McDonald with the returned aircraft.
WESTPAC Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter engineers Craig Hamilton and Heath McDonald with the returned aircraft. GRAHAM ORAMS

Rescue work continues on chopper

THE Northern Rivers’ second Westpac rescue helicopter has been repaired and is back in its Lismore hangar, albeit in a few hundred pieces.

The aircraft was damaged last year after it tipped over following a landing gear malfunction during a routine service.

In a reversal of fortunes, it became the patient requiring transportation and specialist care for a change.

Resident engineers Craig Hamilton and Heath McDonald will now spend the next few months putting the craft back together again.

A consultant from Eurocopter, which supplied the French-built Dauphin helicopters, travelled to Australia to assess the damage at the time and recommended it be sent to an approved repairer, the closest being in Singapore.

“The aircraft had to be stripped bare before being shipped to Singapore for repairs,” Westpac Life Saving Rescue Helicopter general manager Kris Beavis said.

“Now that it’s back it’s likely to take some months to re-fit and return to service.”

Mr Beavis said the elimination of “downtime” would be the biggest benefit of having the second machine back in service.

Mr Beavis commended the engineers, staff and crews for maintaining services effectively with only one helicopter but said it would be a relief to have their other baby back home.

“Having the second aircraft means that when one is being serviced the second is there ready to go should an emergency arise,” he said.

“This is great news for the region, particularly for anyone who is unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident or other mishap where they need to be urgently airlifted.”



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