The next time you watch a news bulletin on Perth’s Channel Ten, odds are some of the video footage will have been shot from a Heliwest aircraft.
Western Australia’s largest onshore helicopter company has signed an agreement with Channel Ten to provide a Bell Jetranger 206 lll to the station’s news division for the next six years.
Heliwest CEO David Grimes and managing director Alan Bailey described the signing of the contract as another step forward for the wholly-owned Western Australian company they co-founded in 1992.
“We have commercial arrangements with many community and industry leaders including Surf Lifesaving WA, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group and now we have joined forces with another leading commercial entity,” said Mr Bailey.
“We are proud to have the opportunity to supply this aircraft to Channel Ten for its exclusive use in the highly-competitive news gathering arena.”
Mr Grimes said the Jetranger would be based at Channel Ten’s Dianella headquarters and flown by senior Heliwest pilots.
“Under our agreement Channel Ten will have a helicopter at its disposal around the clock,” said Mr Grimes.
“When the main aircraft is undergoing normal maintenance we’ll provide a back-up chopper to Channel Ten.”
Channel Ten news manager Chris Hunt said Heliwest had done a top quality job preparing the machine for its new role and everyone at the station was looking forward to a safe, productive and happy partnership.
“A news helicopter represents a significant commitment in terms of a television station’s operating budget but is a vital tool in terms of staying competitive,” said Mr Hunt.
“We have equipped the aircraft with a digital broadcast microwave link (both send and receive) and a â€˜lipstick’ camera to enable reporter live crosses as well as specialised mounting, harnessing and safety equipment for the camera and camera operator in the rear of the machine.”
Mr Hunt said because the machine can receive and replay a microwave signal, it can also be used as a relay facility in the event that a link truck on the ground cannot establish a reliable signal to Channel Ten’s receive points, such as in hilly terrain.
“The tyranny of pictures means that we can’t report for the telly without images and in most cases you don’t have time on your side,” he said.
“Apart from that, an aerial platform is sometimes the only way to access news events, such as accidents or incidents on the water, bushfires and news that occurs in places that are just too difficult to reach by road in time.”
Channel Ten’s new Heliwest helicopter will began its news gathering role this week.
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