4-Jan-2012 Source: SLSWA
Surf Life Saving WAâ€™s new Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter has commenced patrols of Perthâ€™s metropolitan coast.
The aircraft arrived last week from New Zealand and was purchased by SLSWA who have now moved to an owner operator model for the service, thanks to the philanthropic support of Tim Roberts.
â€œThe assistance and support of Tim Roberts and his AvWest group has made the purchase of this new helicopter a possibility,â€ said SLSWA President Mark Irwin.
The Agusta Westland 119ke Koala aircraft is a significant upgrade on the previous helicopter leased by SLSWA over the past three summer seasons.
â€œThe Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter will provide SLSWA greater flexibility in our service delivery, improve cost efficiency and allow greater tasking scope to other emergency agencies, such as WA Police and FESA,â€ said Irwin.
Additional funding from the State Government of Western Australia was allocated to SLSWA to allow the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter to patrol every day until the end of April 2012, delivering an additional 77 flying days compared to the 2010/11 season.
â€œSurf Life Saving WA is grateful to the State Government of Western Australia for their ongoing support of both the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter service and other SLSWA services and programs,â€ said Irwin.
The helicopter will be named after the late John Roberts AO, in honour of the support the Roberts family has provided Surf Life Saving in Western Australia and the wider WA community, with his name featuring on the nose of the aircraft.
â€œThe Roberts family have been great supporters of Surf Life Saving in WA over many decades and we are pleased to be able to honour John in this way and also acknowledge the valued support and assistance Tim has provided, allowing SLSWA to move down the path of owning our own helicopter,â€ said Irwin.
The Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter is based at Rous Head, North Fremantle and the aircraft operates between the hours of 6:30am and 5:00pm, with patrols covering the metropolitan area between Yanchep and Mandurah (including sweeps of Rottnest Island).
The new Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter was officially unveiled on Wednesday at the North Fremantle helipad by Premier Colin Barnett, Tim Roberts and SLSWA President Mark Irwin.
The Premier reinforced the State Governments commitment to Surf Life Saving WA and highlighted the increased funding provided to allow the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter to greatly increase patrols this summer season. In addition the funding has allowed the establishment of a second helicopter service in the South West of the State to operate between Bunbury and Margaret River until the end of January and also increased lifeguard patrols in Perth, the South West and Rottnest Island.
Tim Roberts spoke on behalf of his family in thanking Surf Life Saving WA for naming the aircraft after his father John and noted that his father would have been very humbled by the acknowledgement. Roberts also thanked the AvWest group for their assistance in acquiring the new helicopter.
The Premier joined Irwin, Roberts and Westpacâ€™s Jay Watson for a short flight in the new aircraft as part of the morningâ€™s proceedings.