Australia Helicopters’ Ambulance Victoria operation. Photo courtesy Australian Helicopters
Australian Helicopters has won a 10-year contract from the Victorian Government and Ambulance Victoria to supply and operate a new fleet of six AgustaWestland AW139s for the state’s ambulance service from January 2016.
Australian Helicopters currently operates two of the five helicopters used by Victoria’s air ambulance service. The services are currently provided by a mixed fleet, including Airbus Helicopters AS365 Dauphins and Bell 412s operating from four bases: Warrnambool, Melbourne Essendon, Bendigo and the Latrobe Valley.
Under the new contract, Victoria is standardizing with the AW139, with five operational aircraft and one back up. The AW139s are larger, faster, and have the latest avionics, including air traffic and terrain warning systems and increased infrared and night vision capability. They also have greater range than the types they are replacing, and have the ability to transport two stretcher patients, if required.
“This means a significant improvement in times taken to transport the sickest patients from rural Victoria to major trauma centers. The new aircraft will be able to fly time-critical patients to Melbourne from communities more than 250km away in less than an hour,” says David Davis, Victorian minister for health.
In 2012 and 2013, Victoria’s emergency response helicopters responded to 2,283 emergency cases, transporting 1,810 patients.
The latest contract is a significant win for Australian Helicopters which, over the last year, has been awarded tenders from the National Aerial Firefighting Center and the Queensland Government’s Emergency Helicopter Network.
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