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LifeFlight Australia has reached a major milestone, clocking up 10,000 flying hours in its fleet of Leonardo AW139 helicopters.
The aeromedical service, which has a 40 year history of saving lives in Queensland, Australia, operates 10 RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopters — including five AW139s.
One month shy of the five year anniversary of its first AW139 taking off on its maiden mission for LifeFlight, the service officially ticked over 10,000 hours during a night shift earlier this week.
“Reaching 10,000 flying hours is a reflection of what can be achieved when you pair some of the world’s best aircraft with highly skilled aviation specialists,” said LifeFlight chief executive officer Ashley van de Velde. “The AW139 is a proven helicopter, operating in more than 80 countries; they have spent millions of hours in the air. They’re versatile and suit the varying environments in which we work and the wide-ranging missions undertaken by our teams.”
After the first AW139 took to the air over Queensland in 2015, LifeFlight added another, later that year, with more 139s joining the fleet in 2016 and 2018.
Each of the helicopters is fitted out for search-and-rescue, winching and aeromedical retrieval.
Typically, they are crewed with a pilot, co-pilot or aircrew officer, an RACQ LifeFlight Rescue Critical Care doctor and a flight nurse or paramedic.
“The size and versatility of the AW139s has essentially allowed us to turn these aircraft into flying intensive care units. The configuration of the 139s and the medical staff on board enables us to start treating injured or sick people while on scene and in-transit,” said van de Velde.
RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopters operate out of six bases, three of which are AW139 bases. Due to the nature of the taskings assigned to them, the Brisbane-based aeromedical crews clock up the most flying hours.
The chopper fleet, which also includes three Bell 412s, a BK117 and an AS350 performed more than 2,000 missions last financial year.
The five Leonardo AW139 are rotated through out the bases, depending on operational needs and engineering schedules.
“This ten thousand hour milestone is a testament to our incredible team of LifeFlight engineers and crews along with all of our support staff who contribute to the success of our operations,” said van de Velde.
“We are extremely proud of this 10,000 hour achievement.”