The Northland Rescue Helicopter made more than 200 rescues in the Kaipara region in 2016, and the service has made significant savings since the move 18 months ago to undertake maintenance of its aircraft in-house.
Chief executive Pete Turnbull says they have saved approximately 20 per cent on the cost of purchasing parts.
“This provides significant savings when you consider in the last financial year, expenditure on maintenance totalled $1.6 million. Doing it ourselves also means there has been considerable savings on labour costs.”
The NRH is the only dedicated rescue helicopter trust in New Zealand with the capability to carry out the highly-specialised maintenance work required, following Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) approval in 2015.
“As a charity, we have a responsibility to the community to use our funding wisely and to cut unnecessary costs wherever possible. Being able to do our maintenance work in-house means substantial savings are made by reducing flights to Ardmore in Auckland to get the work done,” said Mr Turnbull.
“It also means we are able to get the aircraft back in service quicker without the excess travel time, which results in an even more reliable and top-quality service for the Northland community.”
Mr Turnbull says that with the NRH maintenance schedule in full swing, it’s three Sikorsky S-76 helicopters have less downtime making the operation more efficient.
“Demand on our service, which includes everything from patient transfers through to long-range at-sea rescues, is increasing at a rate of 10 per cent a year. This makes it even more essential that all the helicopters are used to capacity.”