Rescue choppers grounded

EMERGENCY Management Queensland (EMQ) has temporarily grounded its three AW139 rescue helicopters following incidents in China and South America in recent weeks.

Current advice is that the overseas incidents appear to be the result of failing tail rotor blades and the three AW139s in the EMQ fleet will be grounded until the aircraft can comply with new maintenance and operation requirements introduced by the manufacturer as a result of the incidents.

The choppers regularly fly patients requiring emergency treatment from Warwick and the surrounding region to hospitals in Toowoomba and Brisbane.

EMQ said the safety of their personnel and those they transport was the top priority.

"If there is an issue with the aircraft it is better to temporarily take them offline than risk a tragedy," a spokesman said.

"EMQ will position its two other rescue helicopters, both Bell 412’s, to ensure maximum coverage across the state.

"It is not unusual to have one or more Government-owned helicopters offline at the same time due to the strict maintenance schedules EMQ’s helicopter fleet adheres to."

The spokesman said EMQ would work to have the three AW139 helicopters back in the air as soon as possible and would work with the manufacturer to ensure all safety concerns were satisfied before they returned to duty.

It is expected the helicopters will progressively start resuming operations in approximately one week.



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