Airlift for sick Warwick man

THE RACQ CareFlight helicopter has this afternoon airlifted a 70-year-old Warwick man who is suffering from pneumonia.

The elderly gentleman was in a critical condition when flown to Robina Hospital for urgent treatment.

Meanwhile two of Emergency Management Queensland’s five rescue helicopters remain grounded after more than a week due to safety concerns relating to their tail rotor blades.

As reported last Friday, EMQ’s three AW139 choppers were taken out of service after concerns were raised overseas after several near-misses involving the same make of helicopter.

An EMQ spokesman said this afternoon that the Cairns-based AW139 had tail rotor blades replaced and was now back in service but the choppers based in Townville and Brisbane – which services the Warwick area – remain out of action.

“As directed by new maintenance and operation requirements introduced by the aircraft manufacturer, engineers at the Cairns EMQ Air Base replaced three of that helicopter’s four tail rotor blades to satisfy safety concerns,” the spokesman said.

“The AW139 was subjected to two days of balance testing over the weekend, on the tarmac, hovering and in flight to ensure the new rotor blades were safely fitted.

“Following clearance through the three required levels of balance testing, engineers at Cairns EMQ Air Base liaised with EMQ Chief Engineer and Chief Pilot in Brisbane and were given the all clear to the re-commence aircraft operations.”

The spokesman said EMQ would work to have the remaining AW139 helicopters based in Brisbane and Townsville back in the air “as soon as possible”, and would work with the manufacturer to ensure all safety concerns were satisfied before they return to duty.

“EMQ continues to position two other rescue helicopters, both Bell 412’s, to ensure maximum coverage across the state,” the spokesman said.

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