15 April 2015
This week a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) NH90 helicopter and her crew are taking part in a five day annual National Search and Rescue training exercise at Dip Flat in Marlborough, working alongside experts from the New Zealand Police and Land Search and Rescue.
The NH90 assumed responsibility for search and rescue from the Iroquois at the end of 2014 and is now the primary aircraft for these missions. Chief of Air Force Air Vice-Marshal (AVM) Mike Yardley says the exercise allows the NH90 to continue training for search and rescue operations.
“Exercising with Police and Land Search and Rescue allows us to train in a realistic search and rescue scenario. One of the things the NH90 is doing is winching the search and rescue teams into remote inaccessible locations and then returning to pick them up at the end of each day, averaging about five trips per day. This also allows us to train Land Search and Rescue personnel in helicopter hoisting operations.
“At the same time the exercise gives us the opportunity to qualify our helicopter crewmen in mountain flying; as well as increase the deployed operations experience of the NH90,” says AVM Yardley.
Commitment to national search and rescue is a core function of the Air Force. The RNZAF is a key member of the New Zealand search and rescue sector, a sector responsible for more than 30 million km² of land and sea.
AVM Yardley says the NH90 adds an extra dimension of capability to search and rescue activities and represents a substantial improvement on the Iroquois.
“The NH90 is a highly capable aircraft and can carry up to 18 people or nine stretchers plus medical staff. This aircraft is well suited to the wide range of work the Air Force carries out with Police, Civil Defence and the Department of Conservation,” says AVM Yardley.
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