CareFlight does heavy maintenance from Archerfield


CAREFLIGHT Group Queensland is the latest aviation organisation drawn to the facilities on offer at Archerfield Airport.

The iconic not for profit organisation is one of the largest and most diversified community based air medical retrieval operations in the world. It has now shifted its considerable heavy maintenance operation from Coolangatta to the Brisbane based Archerfield airport, dramatically changing the way it maintains its fleet of 13 aircraft in the process.

In July this year, CareFlight amalgamated with the Sunshine Coast Helicopter Rescue Service and the newly merged organisation now covers a flight region that stretches across 24 councils and 3.7 million square kilometres.  

CareFlight Group Queensland now has an expanded fleet of 11 rescue helicopters and two air ambulance Lear jets. The organisation employs more than 400 staff across 14 locations, seven of which are CareFlight’s own air medical bases.

CareFlight Group chairman of the newly established group, former Queensland Premier Rob Borbidge said the recent moves were powered by a mutual desire to improve patient outcomes and maximise the delivery of lifesaving services to Southern and Central Queenslanders.

“We use helicopters and medi-jets to bring a hospital level of care to the critically ill and injured,” Mr Borbidge said.

“Our aircrew, medical teams and coordinators work closely together to ensure patients receive the best care as soon as possible. It’s about bringing the right team to the right patient at the right time.”

Mr Borbidge said Ashley van de Velde had been confirmed to lead this new entity as chief executive officer.

Currently, CareFlight aeromedical teams care for 1,500 patients a year – many of these suffering from motor vehicle accidents in remote and regional locations.

“CareFlight doctors and nurses are specially trained in pre-hospital and transport medicine. They care for severely injured patients who need emergency treatment at the scene of the incident. We also transport seriously ill patients who need to be moved between hospitals,” Mr van de Velde said.

Archerfield Airport Corporation general manager, former RAAF Group Captain Corrie Metz said the airport was delighted CareFlight Group Queensland had based its heavy maintenance facility at Brisbane metropolitan airport.

“It’s a very effective and efficient location for this important Queensland aerial rescue and medical evacuation service,” Mr Metz said. “At Archerfield, CareFlight heavy maintenance also has access to some of the best general aviation facilities and maintenance companies in Australia.

“We are delighted to have the CareFlight team based here now.”

CareFlight executive manager engineering, Peter Johnson agreed the new Archerfield location would be pivotal in changing the way the organisation maintains its fleet. 

“It enables us to use Archerfield as a central location for heavy maintenance, while still ensuring the rapid deployment of our skilled engineers to any of our seven bases located throughout Queensland, via a fixed wing support aircraft,” Mr Johnson said.

The fleet includes six Bell 412s, two BK 117s, a Bell LongRanger, an AS 350 ‘Squirrel’ and a Bell 230 along with two medically configured 45 and 45XR Learjets. They are utilised for the delivery of CareFlight’s specialised air medical retrieval services for both RACQ CareFlight Rescue and CareFlight Group Queensland commercial operations.

The CareFlight fleet is maintained by an engineering department with 20 skilled and trained engineers, throughout Queensland, along with heavy maintenance operation now at Hangar 110 at Archerfield. The seven operational bases are supported by a technical services team of eight.

Heavy maintenance can include scheduled short term work, through to five year, 3,000 hour maintenance on the Bell 412 helicopters that can take at least two months.

First priority at Archerfield was two Bell 412 helicopters undergoing major inspections and overhaul work, undertaken by seven engineers.

The move to join 80 other businesses at the central Archerfield Airport also frees up CareFlight’s Bilinga Base.

“Engineers were working out of the Gold Coast Base which is also where two of our RACQ CareFlight Rescue helicopters are situated,” Mr Johnson said.

“Whilst this is pretty much where it all started, we have simply outgrown our original hangar and there wasn’t the room.

“Now that we’ve moved it has freed up hangar space, not only for the rescue helicopters, but the air ambulance jet can now also share that same space, saving the organisation significant hangar costs.”

CareFlight has big plans for the service of its fleet and the heavy maintenance operation at Archerfield is central to that process.

“Archerfield provides us with the base we need while still allowing us rapid access to our bases throughout Queensland when we need it,” Mr Johnson said.






TechSafe Aviation formed to mitigate mining charter flight risks

INCREASING use of charter flights in the mining industry has been the impetus for the formation of TechSafe Aviation, which is a specialist in aviation risk management strategies.

TechSafe Aviation, formed by parent company Adagold Aviation, is headed up by former Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) senior executive Rob Collins – who has lately been in demand for comment on theories relating to the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 – and aviation consultant Mike Horneman. 

Mr Collins has more than 35 years experience in aviation management and safety, while Mr Horneman has 50 years experience as a licensed aircraft maintenance engineer, flight engineer, airline pilot and in safety regulation administration in Australia and Indonesia.

“Companies in the mining and resources industry are leaders of risk management,” Mr Collins said. “The duty of care extends to more than just the factory floor – it reaches far underground and high in the sky.

“There are already countless workplace health and safety (WHS) policies and procedures in place across mining operations and as more companies see the value in charter flights, these risk management strategies need to adapt to include air travel.

“Senior executives know that it’s about setting and maintaining a culture which has no tolerance to unsafe practises.”

Mr Collins said TechSafe Aviation can help analyse, audit and improve systems and policies for all aviation work.

“Our job is to make sure all risk management systems and policies are clear, coherent and the process is simplified,” Mr Collins said.

“Our aim is to be the leading global provider of all aviation safety, technical and compliance solutions.”

Mr Collins said TechSafe Aviation could develop an aviation standard and policy suitable for any company along the air travel supply chain.

“We also provide training from the ground up, so that every member of the company is across the safety policy,” he said.

“It includes a risk-based methodology to ensure that the policy provides the lowest possible risk for staff travel needs.

“We have hands-on experience at all levels of aviation operations within Australia, Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Europe and many other South East Asian countries.

“We have experience ranging from small single engine aircraft to the largest multi-engine intercontinental jets and helicopters.”

Mr Collins said the objective was to offer customers a tailored ‘virtual aviation department’ covering all their aviation requirements.

“It’s about providing risk mitigation, operational oversight and cost controls to ensure that the customer meets not only its health and safety obligations but delivers the services in the most cost effective manner,” Mr Collins said.




Australian JSFs airborne this year

THE FIRST two Australian F-35 Joint Strike Fighters will be delivered in mid-2014, according to Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, and a further 100 remain on order. 

The ‘initial operational capability’ readiness date for the RAAF is expected to be some time in 2020.

One of the last actions taken by the previous Labor Government’s Defence Department was to confirm its commitment to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter – which gave a boost to its Australian component manufacturers.

“Along with the first two Australian jets in production, which will deliver in mid-2014, we will work closely with the government to support their purchase of their remaining 100 F-35 aircraft,” F-35 international communications manager Laurie Tortorello said.

“Additionally, we will work with Australian industry supporting their participation in the production of components and sub-assemblies for the more than 3,000 F-35s to be built during the life of the program.

“The projected $5.5 billion of industrial participation will bring long term economic benefits to Australia for decades.”






Sale of John Holland Aviation Services’ assets?

JOHN HOLLAND Aviation Services’ (JHAS) has begun progressively winding back operations at its Melbourne base due to current market conditions and is investigating the possible sale of its Tullamarine facility. 

John Holland Group managing director, Glenn Palin, said the decision was consistent with the owning Leighton Group’s strategy to stabilise, rebase and then grow, a key element of which is the recycling of capital from non-core assets. 

“After owning JHAS for seven years, we are focusing John Holland on our infrastructure, rail and specialist engineering capabilities,” Mr Palin said. 

“We continue to perform well in our key domestic and international operations in tunnelling, water treatment and distribution, heavy marine structures, power transmission, rail and transport concessions. We have internationally recognised specialist engineering capabilities that we are exporting to a number of overseas markets.” 

Mr Palin said early interest had been shown in the business. 

“A number of potential purchasers have previously expressed interest in various parts of our business,” he said. “Any sale price realised is unlikely to be material to Leighton Holdings and we expect to exit the business by the middle of 2014. 

“I would like to thank all employees of JHAS for their valuable contribution,” he added. 




Brisbane Airport retains 24/7 status

QUEENSLAND is already proclaiming it is open for business 24 hours a day, seven days a week with the latest Federal Government announcement that it will allow Brisbane Airport to retain unrestricted runway access.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, Warren Truss made the announcement at the Tourism and Transport Forum Leadership Summit in Canberra last week, accepting the recommendation of the Brisbane Airport Curfew Review Steering Committee not to impose a curfew at the airport.

“It is not the disposition of this Australian Government to impose additional regulatory burdens on industry,” Mr Truss said.

“On the contrary, we have committed to reducing the red and green tape cost burdens on the Australian economy by $1 billion per year.

“Having considered all of the submissions, the overwhelming preference is for Queensland to stay open for business without impediments and, in this case, without airbrakes.

“The Queensland Government, local government and industry are united in opposing a curfew, which would have a significant impact on the economy of Brisbane and the state of Queensland. 

“Despite neighbourhood environmental arguments in favour of a curfew, the government agrees with the Curfew Committee that night time restrictions at Brisbane Airport would not significantly mitigate aircraft noise impacts on Brisbane residents. 

“The nearest house is more than 6km from the runway centreline, double the buffer around Melbourne Airport and 10 times the buffer of Sydney, Cairns, Adelaide and Coolangatta. 

“Nevertheless, I have urged Brisbane Airport Corporation to continue its community consultation and noise management efforts, particularly in developing its 2014 Master Plan and in the lead up to the delivery of the new parallel runway.” 






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