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Silver Wings
Silver Wings
Posts: 37
Joined: Oct 2008


Postby Headset » Wed Apr 11 2018, 03:04

Interested in whats happening in NZ with the upcoming changes. I see no more Squirrels, all multi engine required. Loss of several of the current bases.

Also only a couple of operators for the whole country. This is similar to what happened in NSW a decade ago, was tough at the time for some of the small operators. But ended up with a very good model today.

Anyone have any more info and thoughts on these changes.
3rd Dan
3rd Dan
Posts: 561
Joined: May 2010

Re: NASO NZ EMS Changes

Postby SuperF » Wed Apr 11 2018, 23:56

The problem with the rescue helis in NZ, is that every region thinks that they need their own dedicated helicopter, with all the bells and whistles.

The local rescue helicopters will all cry that they need more funding..... but $2-3,000,000 operating cost to fly 2-300 hrs per year is a lot more than a lot of communities can afford. A lot of areas could do with rationalisation, however the local rescue trusts will not ever get into a conversation about it, as a lot are trying to protect their jobs, or little empires they have built, and they pull on the heartstrings of the locals and claim that every mission they do is saving someones life. Well sorry, but when 80-90% of your "rescues" are simply transferring patients between two hospitals, because it is quicker and easier than doing it by aeroplane, or road, then they are not all saving someones life. Its not normally the pilots doing the empire building, they normally are just trying to do their job. Also that 2-300 hrs/yr has to be split among 2 pilots, it should really be 4 to cover 24/7 duty, however a lot of the small trusts are still pushing the limits on NZ Duty times.....

A lot of the time a local commercial helicopter with local crew, is able to get to, or find people and get them to safety faster than any out of town crew ever will. Now anyone that is new to an area and only gets 100-150 hrs per year, is very unlikely to become very knowledgable about the flying conditions in that specific area, especially compared to a real local pilot doing 500-1000 hrs / year in the area. Especially if you are talking areas such as the central North Island, Taranaki, East Cape, Marlborough, Fiordland, or the West coast.

For a lot of areas a single would work well, however now in NZ you cannot take off and land in a built up area in a single, unless its a life or death situation. The rescue helicopter operators themselves ruined that ability, as they got busted hovering over built up areas while the hospital helipads were waiting to be cleared. Noise complaints went to CAA, and when it was found that they were just jumping into the hospital to pick up an O2 bottle, or some other silly reason they all got busted and CAA came down hard on anyone trying to operate in Built up areas with singles.

We also have the silly situation of five dedicated rescue helicopters within about 90 km of each other!! they aren't all needed, but every little city thinks that it has to have their own. Hamilton X2, Tauranga, Rotorua, and Taupo all have their own dedicated helicopter... They are looking at dropping Taupo, but Rotorua is sitting right in the middle of that group, so maybe that one should go instead. the problem with that is Rotorua is probably the busiest of them, not counting Hamilton, so they wont drop Rotorua, even though Taupo is the closest into the central North Island. Rotorua is only 50 km to Tauranga, and 65km to Taupo, so it could easily be covered by the other two centers!

I cannot understand why they would drop Te Anau, or why they would need a twin out there. It is an hour from Dunedin, and all the work is over unpopulated areas, and in the hills, a B3 does a perfectly good job dragging broken people off the hills, just as good a job as the 206 and 500's did back in the day.

The biggest push will be for the Big hospitals to have their own helicopters and they have probably had the logistics looked at by a transport/cost cutting expert, and they won't actually be looking at the response times or individual operators local knowledge. The government doesn't actually directly fund the helicopters for standby, and they have quite a low hourly rate that they are paid per hour flowen, the rest has to be gained from the communities, so unless NASO are going to fully fund the helicopters they might not get exactly what they want.

It will all work well until the first panic situation when they have to call the local guy again and then all bets are off again.

And good luck if NASO think that they are going to get 139's or something like that, with their current funding model. They want a Gold Plated service but are only prepared to pay pennies for it. Each small community is contributing thousands of dollars per hour flown into its "own" rescue helicopter.
Gold Wings
Gold Wings
Posts: 166
Joined: Dec 2007

Re: NASO NZ EMS Changes

Postby Skywork » Thu Apr 12 2018, 00:39

Oh the Twin engine thing, also come about by an single engine operator buying some well priced BK 117s and then spent some time lobbying CAA on the safety of twins even though singles had done the job so well for many years without incident. Finally CAA gave in to the squeaky wheel and changed the regulations on singles going into hospital pads. Then idle BK 117s are now on contract as the hospital boards and the community had no option but to pay for them
1st Dan
1st Dan
Posts: 219
Joined: May 2016

Re: NASO NZ EMS Changes

Postby Gonsky » Thu Apr 12 2018, 08:43

Excellent and very informative reply SuperF.


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