Rescue helicopters remain grounded

EMERGENCY Management Queensland (EMQ) rescue choppers based in Brisbane and Townsville remain grounded after an international safety warning was issued over tail rotor blades on the Agusta AW139 craft.

As reported last Saturday, EMQ’s three AW139s were taken out of service on the Friday, following a crash of the same model in Brazil on August 19 that killed four people.

One of the three EMQ choppers, based at Cairns, is back in the air after repairs and EMQ’s two smaller Bell 412s are servicing the State.

The Brisbane-based AW139 services Warwick and surrounding areas for medical and accident emergencies, along with RACQ CareFlight.

An EMQ spokeswoman was yesterday unable to give a timeframe on repairs to the other two AW139s, other than to say they were hopeful these would be completed “soon”.

The international warning on the AW139 was issued on August 25 and states the Brazilian tragedy was possibly caused by cracks in a tail rotor blade, which if undetected in other choppers could lead to a “tail rotor structural failure and loss of control”.

EMQ AW139s were involved in dramatic rescues of residents from Grantham during the January floods.

The Italian and US-made choppers are used internationally for search and rescue.



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