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Northern NSW : Summer 2017
There is still a lot of excitement around the new AgustaWestland AW139 aircraft that ‘go live’ on 1 March in Newcastle, 1 April in Lismore and 1 May in Tamworth allowing us to fulfil our contract arrangement to provide aeromedical services for the whole of northern NSW. The story on the opposite page goes into some detail about the training requirements for the pilots. The phasing-in of the AW139s and the phasing out of the 412s and BK117s is also a busy and exciting time for the Service’s engineers as well. My combined avionics and mechanical course for the AW139 lasted eight weeks in June and July in 2014 with a lot of training on a North Sea oil rig. There were eight AW139s and two in the hangar and I was allowed to work on them. Peter McInnes did the mechanical course at the same facility in Den Helder in The Netherlands in November and December 2014. The rest of the engineers have trained at Sesto Calende in Italy, 30 minutes north-west of Milan. It’s a great spot and only 10 minutes from the AgustaWestland factory. Everything in avionics is in English, whether navigation through the sky or components. All measurements are imperial, which makes it easier, and everyone does the same training with the manufacturer. The AW139 is built as a people transporter for the offshore oil and gas industry and can take 13 passengers or 15 in a high-density configuration for a short hop to a rig. It is an instrument-flying helicopter and marketed as being able to handle all weather conditions. The AW139s the Service purchased have nothing in the cabin when they leave the factory. The only modifications carried out pre-sale for us were a winch, provision for a big light, and some radio avionics equipment purely for search and rescue. But basically, the aircraft could be used for oil and gas straight out of the factory. The Service had two engineers in Italy for a week running through a checklist for the official acceptance; one on the aircraft, and one on compliance documentation. We only had a limited amount of time in that week to check the helicopter and literally couldn’t get into every bay or open every panel. So we checked the most important things, ticked them off, and the money was then transferred for final payment. After we had formally accepted the AW139s in Italy they were disassembled and transferred to AgustaWestland’s facility in Melbourne. Two of us then went to Melbourne for another acceptance process, including a pilot for two days. That whole process took 10 days and then the new aircraft were ferried back to Newcastle. We then organised the medical fit-out at Total Aerospace Solutions at Narellan, southwest of Sydney, which has previously carried out the medical fitouts for the fixed-wing aircraft of the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the NSW Ambulance King Airs. I look forward to updating you on the performance of the AW139s during their first series of missions in the next edition of Rescue. Inside the AW139 cockpit Change from the rig gig MATTHEW WALLACE, CHIEF ENGINEER 19 Rescue Magazine SUMMER 2017
Rescue Spring 2016
Rescue Autumn 2017