South Australia is to acquire two new emergency service helicopters after signing a new four-year deal with Babcock Australasia.
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The $150 million agreement means the state will receive a new Airbus H145 D3 and Bell 412 EP, while an existing 30-year-old police helicopter will be retired.
The changes mean SA’s eventual fleet will grow to four, with three aircraft able to be airborne concurrently.
Emergency services minister Joe Szakacs said, “Our government has delivered on a comprehensive extension to the State Rescue Helicopter Service (SRHS) that will both prevent crime and save lives.
“Similarly, for our hard-working specialist paramedics, and MedSTAR doctors and nurses, the additional helicopter delivered in this investment will allow for better resourcing during times of need and relieve demand on the service.”
The deal will see the two new SRHS helicopters active before the end of next year, alongside a pledge to hire four new dedicated pilots.
“The SRHS is shared between SA Police (SAPOL) and SA Ambulance Service (SAAS) to provide critical emergency response across the state,” said the state government.
“The SRHS operates 24/7 every day of the year and specialises in aeromedical retrievals from rural hospitals and accident scenes, search and rescue missions on land and at sea and airborne law enforcement.
“The Malinauskas Government has delivered a strong boost to the SRHS, extending its contract with current provider Babcock Australasia for a further four years, as well as investing in a brand-new SAPOL helicopter and an additional aircraft for SAAS.
“The existing 30-year-old SAPOL helicopter will be replaced by a new twin-engine SAPOL Airbus H145 D3.
“The new helicopter is quieter, faster, and lighter. It will arrive by July 2024.
“The new SAPOL H145 is the quietest helicopter in this class and offers substantial benefits, including lower CO2 emissions and reduced noise pollution.
“SAAS will welcome a Bell 412 EP to be configured for medical operations like the current aircraft. Due to its contract, it will arrive in December 2024. However, other interim Bell 412 aircraft will be available for use.
“The investment will also see four additional pilots hired to provide a third line of flying for 24/7 operations, meaning three helicopters can be airborne at once if required.
“This mitigates operational impacts associated with regulations relating to flying multiple aircraft types and provides more operational capability.”