Cairns-based Nautilus Aviation has won the contract to operate the Southern Region Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter, Australia’s first civilian search and rescue helicopter service, taking over the operation of the Surf Life Saving Australia-owned service.
Nautilus has purchased Life Saver’s two BK117B2s, VH-SLA, call sign ‘Life Saver 21’ and VH-SLU ‘Life Saver 23’. The company will provide helicopter rescue services from Life Saver’s main base in Sydney at La Perouse, south-east of the CBD, and from Moruya Airport on the far south coast of the state when the contract commences on May 1.
It has been awarded an initial one-year contract, with the option of two two-year extensions.
“The decision to outsource our operations had mixed emotions because we needed to look at better, cheaper and more reliable options whilst at the same time, protecting our staff and guaranteeing our services,” said Westpac Life Saver Helicopter chief executive Stephen Leahy.
“Our partnership with Nautilus ticks all the boxes and the community won’t see any change. We will continue to save lives, which we have done so since September 1973, with the same pilots and crew helping you.”
Nautilus, which also provides disaster relief support for Australian Government agencies in the Asia Pacific region, has offered Life Saver’s current staff positions under the new contract.
“Nautilus Aviation is proud to be associated with such a long standing service,” said its chief executive Aaron Finn.
“We look forward to developing an ongoing relationship to complement our existing search and rescue services throughout northern Australia for the Queensland Police Service, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority and Queensland Fire and Emergency Services.”