20 December 2014
A Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) 3 Squadron NH90 helicopter rescued a missing tramper in a debut mission late yesterday – it was the first day that the NH90s took over responsibility for RNZAF search and rescue tasks from the long-serving distinctive Iroquois helicopters.
The Austrian tramper went missing in the Otaki Forks area on Wednesday. The NH90 spotted him in a valley late yesterday afternoon and winched him to safety.
Chief of Air Force Air Vice-Marshal (AVM) Mike Yardley said the tasking followed a ceremony on Thursday to transfer the responsibility for key RNZAF search and rescue and national security roles from the Iroquois to the NH90s.
“As of yesterday, the NH90 is the primary aircraft responsible for search and rescue missions, casualty evacuation in association with search and rescue, as well as transport for NZ Police and other military personnel for national security requirements,” AVM Yardley said.
“Assisting other government organisations in search and rescue operations is an important part of the RNZAF’s role, and the NH90 is now sufficiently developed to respond to this type of operation.
“The NH90 is a modern, world-class aircraft, and it was good to see it in action in service to our country for the first time, helping our people in support of a wider operation.
“The aircraft performed well during its first search and rescue mission, and demonstrated it is well-equipped to perform this type of task. The crew have also done a great job and performed well under pressure,” AVM Yardley said.
The NH90 and A109 aircraft are on track to be capable of undertaking all tasks currently performed by the Iroquois by the middle of next year.
- END OF AN ERA: The aircraft captain from yesterday’s mission is available to talk about the “changing of the guard” at the Ohakea-based 3 Squadron.
Please contact Geoff Davies of the Defence Communications Group: 021 806 926.