A Sunshine Coast business is in the final stages of providing specialist aeromedical fit-out services to two new search and rescue helicopters for the Palaszczuk Government.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Craig Crawford visited Helimods in Caloundra today as part of the Governing from the Regions program where they were putting the finishing touches to the aircraft before delivery to the State’s north.
The Premier said that the recent natural disasters in Queensland showed that the State was often reliant on Queensland Government Air (QGAir) helicopters to rescue people from hard to reach places.
“In 2017 my government invested more than $46 million to upgrade our aircraft including the purchase of two new Agusta Westland AW139 helicopters to keep the people of north Queensland safe,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“These helicopters were manufactured in Italy before coming here to Helimods in Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast to undergo aeromedical fit out to provide fit-for-purpose capability.
“All modifications to the aircraft to enable them to perform these special missions have been fully designed, prototyped, manufactured and fitted here at Helimods’ high-tech, industry 4.0 facility.
“Supporting local business is important because it means local jobs.”
Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford said the new choppers would be a very welcome addition to the emergency services arsenal in the State’s north.
“These $20 million machines will replace the two Bell helicopters based in Townsville, which are more than 20 years old and due for replacement,” he said.
“While their base is in Townsville, these modified helicopters will be available to all of north Queensland from March and April this year.
“That includes Cairns which already has one of the Palaszczuk Government’s fleet of five helicopters based there and now we’ll have access to our two newest.
“Helimods has already done similar modifications for other emergency services organisations, including the Victorian Ambulance Service, and had won a contract to configure AW139s for a Canadian Air Ambulance company.
“These helicopters are the market-leading intermediate twin-engine helicopters in capability, speed, ride quality and passenger cabin space.”
The Government has a fleet of five helicopters operating from bases in Townsville, Cairns and Brisbane.
HeliMods Managing Director Will Shrapnel said that the company was proud to support modification and future sustainment of the QGAir aircraft for the people of Queensland.
“It is an incredible reflection on Queensland and its commitment to supporting community – these aircraft are truly world class.
“Our focus on innovation and investment in digital design and advanced manufacturing jobs has delivered global exports from our purpose-built facility here on the Sunshine Coast – but nothing is more satisfying than knowing we have contributed to delivering a world class capability to the people of our own State.”