Emergency turnout as chopper forced to land
A full emergency was declared at the airportTARYN UTIGER
The Taranaki Community Rescue helicopter made an emergency landing at New Plymouth airport last night with engine problems.
The twin engine chopper was flying back to Taranaki Base Hospital with a patient when the drama occurred.
St John district operations manager Ian May said after a warning light came up on one of the engines, the pilot took the power off it and flew the rest of the journey on one engine.
A full emergency was declared at the airport and the fire brigade, an ambulance and police responded to the call.
"The helicopter landed uneventfully on the remaining engine.
"For us it was a routine landing and the patient was then transferred to a road ambulance," Mr May said.
The incident highlighted the benefits of a twin engine helicopter, Mr May said.
"We haven't always had a twin engine and this proves it's a must in terms of safety."
In 2010 the Civil Aviation Authority banned the trust's single-engine Agusta Westland A119 Koala helicopter from landing at Taranaki Base Hospital because of safety regulations.
The trust bought the chopper for $4.5 million in 2007, but had to trade it in for a second-hand twin engine and find a further $1.3m to fund the deal.
Mr May said there was no question about that choice now.
"A twin engine is a must," he said.
The 27-year-old male patient being taken to the hospital was one of four people on the helicopter.
He was lifted off a remote farm near Taumarunui after a quad bike accident, Mr May said.
He had suffered moderate leg and pelvic injuries.
The helicopter remains at the airport and will be assessed this morning by aircraft engineers.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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