New Zealand-based air ambulance provider Northland Rescue Helicopter (NRH) has reported that it has made ‘significant savings’ since switching to in-house maintenance 18 months ago. The service said it is the only dedicated rescue helicopter trust in New Zealand to be able to perform the highly-specialised maintenance required on its helicopters. It was granted approval to do so in 2015 by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
The actual amount saved by the charity is hard to calculate exactly, said NRH chief executive Pete Turnbull, due to factors such as the US exchange rate, unscheduled maintenance, and the year-on-year increases in call-out rates. Turnbull stated that the company had, however, 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 NZ$1.6 million. Doing it ourselves also means there have been considerable savings on labour costs,” he stated. He added that the in-house maintenance has also meant that the company’s three Sikorsky S-76s have less downtime, therefore making the whole company more efficient. “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,” he added.
NRH has carried out various maintenance duties on its aircraft, including day-to-day maintenance, and engine and gearbox changes. It also said it has completed minor upgrades on its aircraft, including updating iridescent landing and navigation lights to LED lighting, making them more reliable and require less power.
The charity explained that the move has had other benefits, including providing jobs for three local aeronautical engineers who had previously had to travel to work in the sector.