14 February 2019
The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) conducted a search and rescue exercise this week with New Zealand Police as part of ongoing efforts to ensure both services operate together seamlessly during what are often life-saving situations.
Police Senior Constable Barry Shepherd said that as part of the exercise, about 40 personnel from Police and New Zealand Land Search and Rescue practised being winched out of a Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) NH90 helicopter at Turangi Airfield.
“These personnel have not previously worked with an NH90 helicopter so it was an opportunity to familiarise them with its operating procedures,” Constable Shepherd said.
Air Commodore Tim Walshe, the Air Component Commander, said the winching practice was useful because many search and rescue operations are conducted in areas where it is not possible to land helicopters.
“In many cases, winching is the only viable option to get search personnel or people being rescued to or from the ground safely,” Air Commodore Walshe said.
New Zealand Land Search and Rescue personnel were winched out of an NH90 helicopter into the bush during the recent search and rescue operation for a 60-year-old tramper who went missing in the Tararua Ranges.
The NH90 has two rescue hoists that can lift up to 250kgs and can fly in most weather conditions, day or night.
The NZDF’s search and rescue capability delivers vital public service in New Zealand and overseas. One RNZAF NH90 helicopter, one RNZAF P-3K2 Orion surveillance aircraft and one Royal New Zealand Navy vessel are on standby for search and rescue callouts at all times.