Two new Airbus helicopters are going into service in Mackay and Gladstone for marine pilot transfer duties.
A joint tender process between Gladstone Ports Corporation (GPC) and North Queensland Bulk Port (NQBP) saw Mackay Helicopters awarded the contract for the supply of helicopters, which were this week under construction at Mackay airport as they were readied for service.
State Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert said the Airbus helicopters being commissioned were renowned worldwide for their safety and versatility, and were well suited for the transfer of marine pilots on and off ships.
“Over the course of the next few weeks, Mackay Helicopter pilots, who fly on behalf of the ports, will receive specialist training and simulation,” Mrs Gilbert said.
“The new aircraft for NQBP’s use will be based at the Port of Hay Point helipad and is on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
NQBP chief executive officer Steve Lewis said helicopters had long been used by ports as the most safe and efficient mode of transport for transferring marine pilots to vessels.
“Helicopters allow port operations to run smoothly, because they can be operated in a wide range of conditions,” he said.
“They provide us with rapid response capabilities to any operational needs or in the unlikely event of an emergency.”
In Gladstone the Airbus 135H will replace the Eurocopter 135 helicopter which currently services the port.
GPC chief executive officer Peter O’Sullivan said helicopters were used to transfer Gladstone marine pilots to and from ships at the Gladstone Fairway Buoy.