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Rescue chopper grounded while engine tested

The region’s ECT rescue helicopter has been temporarily replaced while it undergoes an engine investigation and repairs.

A former Taupo-based Greenlea helicopter, equipped with a winch, has been brought in while that work is done.

“The day we attended a tractor accident on Whakarau Road a warning light came on in our helicopter,” said helicopter rescue trust chairman Patrick Willock.

As a precaution the Taupo helicopter was dispatched to the accident as well.

“Our helicopter was OK and the patient was transferred to Gisborne hospital, but as is normal, our machine was taken back to the maintenance base in Taupo for further investigation.

“We were supplied with a replacement helicopter that was hired externally.”

Mr Willock said the ECT machine had evidence of minute traces of metal in the oil in its engine.

“So it is being thoroughly investigated and tested.

“The engine was cleared for a further 10 hours of flying and then a retest, but because there was a spare helicopter in the group the decision was made to deploy that spare helicopter and run the original engine on the ground for the 10 hours.”

Mr Willock said the seamless way helicopters have been swapped into the Gisborne base was a graphic example of the co-ordination between bases.

“That is a new regime that we are proud to be part of. It is working well.”

REPLACEMENT: The ex-Greenlea rescue helicopter from Taupo has temporarily replaced the usual ECT rescue chopper, which has gone to the maintenance base in Taupo for investigation of an engine issue, and repairs. Picture supplied