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  • Tamara Sheward

    TropicNow writer

    Email Tamara Sheward

    Cairns helicopter company flying high with big new contract


    Cairns-based Nautilus Aviation has won a hotly-contested contract to provide search and rescue helicopter operations on behalf of the NSW Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter.

    From May 1, the company will provide helicopter rescue services from Life Saver’s main base in Sydney and a regional base at Moruya, servicing a huge chunk of NSW from the Central Coast to the Victorian border, to the Blue Mountains, and the Snowy Ranges down to the Murray River.

    The area covered is home to six million people, about 25 per cent of Australia’s population.

    Operational since 1973, the Westpac Life Saver Helicopter is Australia’s first civilian search and rescue helicopter service.

    Nautilus Aviation CEO Aaron Finn said that the company was proud to be associated with the long-standing service.

    “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,” Mr Finn said.

    “Our helicopters also support the NSW Rural Fire Service during the summer season.”

    Westpac Life Saver Helicopter CEO Stephen Leahy said the decision ensured that the rescue helicopters would continue to provide an efficient and capable rescue service to the community of NSW.

    “The decision to outsource our operations had mixed emotions because we need to look at better, more cost effective and reliable options whilst at the same, protecting our staff and guaranteeing our services,” Mr Leahy said.

    “Our partnership with Nautilus Aviation ticks all the boxes.”

    Nautilus, which also provides disaster relief support for Australian Government agencies in the Asia Pacific region, will provide the helicopters, and has offered Life Saver’s current staff positions under the new contract.

    Nautilus Aviation, established in 1993, is one of Australia’s major helicopter operators, with bases in Cairns, Darwin, Townsville, Horn Island and Weipa.