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Garden City Helicopters sends two aircraft to Vanuatu

March 18, 2015

Garden City Helicopters is set to send two specially equipped helicopters from Christchurch to Vanuatu to help with disaster relief efforts, medical evacuations and to help restore communications in the country.

The Christchurch based company, which operates the Westpac Rescue Helicopter in Christchurch, also owns Vanuatu Helicopters. Its existing R66 based in Port Vila has been assisting government and aid agencies with relief since Cyclone Pam hit.

Group Marketing Manager Alison Fleming says the company has today been given special CAA clearance to send a BA Squirrel and a BK117 on the 14 hour journey, travelling above the normal maximum weight.

“We are well equipped to take on an operation of this scale, with plenty of operational experience, including being on the spot for the 2011 earthquake disaster and relief efforts,” she says.

The call for help has come from the NDMO (National Disaster Management Office) to assist military teams from New Zealand and Australia who are already distributing aid.

“Taking these machines all the way to Vanuatu requires a tremendous amount of ground and paper work before the all clear can be given, such as working out the number of nautical miles per leg,” she says.

“The most critical passage of travel will be from Kaitaia to Norfolk Island which is around 450 nautical miles.  Modifications to the aircraft need to be made to accommodate extra fuel tanks.  Fuel is transferred either electrically or can be done manually in case of electrical failure.”

From Norfolk Island the helicopters will fly to Noumea and then on to Port Vila, a total of around 14 hours flying.

Garden City Helicopters (Christchurch based) is the owner of Vanuatu Helicopters, based in Port Vila.

The company has been in operation for over 30 years and are experts in search and rescue operations.


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