MAC Rescue Helicopter Service

Sponsor: Motor Accident Commission.Airfield: Adelaide, Display at Torrens Parade GroundsTime Frame: November 2009 Government of South AustraliaState Rescue Helicopters
Thanks to:Justice Department, Business ServicesRescue Helicopter Management Committee

Australian Helicopters

Staff involved in Public Sector Week 2009.

1) History of the State Rescue Helicopter Service

  • In the late 1970’s a number of organisations involved in providing emergency services began talks with Government about providing helicopter capacity in South Australia.   Guy Lloyd, of Lloyd Helicopters saw an opportunity to be involved and was able to provide leadership and advice to the agencies on how the service could be developed.
  • In the summer of 1979/80 a trial was undertaken by Surf Lifesaving, using a Bell 206 Jetranger helicopter, servicing the local South Australian beaches.  There was a significant rescue where a life was saved which demonstrated that the helicopter service had a major and indeed a broader role to play in state rescues.  After the Liberal Party won the election, the new premier David Tonkin indicated the intention to widen the concept to a State Service.
  • The State Government in May 1980 approved the establishment of a full time State Rescue Helicopter Service (SRHS) to be operated by Lloyd Helicopters.  A Bell 206L Long Ranger VH-BJX ‘Rescue 1’ commenced operations.  By this time government organisations using helicopters were: Police, CFS, Health (Retrieval Teams), Ambulance services and independently run Surf Lifesaving.
  • Special facilities were opened at Adelaide Airport in 1980 to house the rescue helicopter operations.
  • Additional helicopters were progressively added and in 1990 the first Bell 412 VH-NSC came into service.
  • Operators of the service have been Lloyd Helicopters, CHC Helicopters, and from 11 December 2005, Australian Helicopters Pty Ltd.  The new operator gained the rescue contract for a term of seven years. They now operate from a specially built  complex near Harbour Town at Adelaide Airport.
  • Previous sponsors of the Rescue Helicopter Service have included Bank of New South Wales, Westpac Bank, S.G.I.C., and Adelaide Bank. The Motor Accident Commission took over sponsorship from 1 July 2009.



On display at the Torrens Parade Grounds, Public Sector Week November 2009.


2) Background

Today, the South Australian State Rescue Helicopter Service (“MAC Rescue Helicopter Service”) is a multi-helicopter service that is principally used by 4 emergency services agencies to support the provision of police, bushfire services, and emergency medical retrieval services to the South Australian community.

Australian Helicopters Pty Ltd is the service provider engaged to supply the helicopters and aircrew and carry out the day-to-day operations of the MAC Rescue Helicopter Service (“MAC RHS”).

The service continues to be well recognised for operating as an effective shared user arrangement which is unique to South Australia.

The cooperation of the user agencies saves dollars by eliminating the need for separate helicopter service contracts in each agency. More importantly, it provides a flexible and efficient service that saves lives.



On display at the Torrens Parade Grounds, Public Sector Week November 2009.


3) Roles performed

The helicopters in operation perform a variety of tasks in the support of the user agencies.  The following table indicates the core tasks that are performed for each agency:

SA Health (DH)
  • Emergency aero medical retrieval
  • Non emergency aero medical retrieval / patient transfer
SA Ambulance Service (SAAS)
  • Patient retrieval / paramedic insertion in difficult access / egress environments
SA Police (SAPOL)
  • Aerial command platform
  • Search and rescue over land and water
  • Intelligence gathering
  • Crime prevention and detection
  • Observation
  • Special tasks
SA Country Fire Service (CFS)
  • Aerial command platform
  • Fire mapping and observation
  • Fire bombing
  • Air attack supervision
All users
  • Transport of personnel and equipment
  • Training

There are also a small number of external users which access the MAC RHS from time to time.  The main one is the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), which is the Commonwealth government body responsible for the search and rescue response to national civil aviation and maritime distress incidents.


4)  Role of Justice Business Services

Justice Business Services (JBS) within the Attorney-General’s Department manages the contract and funding arrangements for the MAC RHS, as well as the service partnering agreement between the key user agencies.

5) Aircraft

Australian Helicopters service the MAC RHS requirements with the following three aircraft:

  • The “Agusta Bell 412”, the largest helicopter, is used mostly by SA Health for primary aero-medical retrievals and by SAPOL / SAAS for winch rescue missions.
  • The “BK 117” is also regularly used by Health for inter hospital retrievals. It is also the back up winch aircraft and is also used by SAPOL and CFS.
  • The “EC 130” is regularly used by SAPOL for surveillance and patrol missions, pursuits, and search and rescue over land and water.  The CFS also often uses this helicopter for intelligence missions to collect and disseminate information during a bushfire or for command and control of water bombing operations. It also has an aero-medical capability.


5.1) Agusta Bell 412 (AB412)

Also known as Rescue Five One (Rescue 51 or RS51), medium twin, VH-LSA.

Performs the following key taskings:

  • aero medical retrieval (up to 4 patients)
  • neonatal retrieval (with cot and lifter)
  • winch rescue
  • passenger transport


5.2) BK117

Also known as Rescue Five Two (Rescue 52 or RS52), light twin, VH-VSA.

Performs the following key taskings:

  • aero medical retrieval (up to 2 patients)
  • neonatal retrieval (takes cot)
  • high speed chase in poor weather – due to infra-red capability
  • winch rescue back-up
  • CFS command and control.


5.3) EC130 (single)

Also known as Rescue Five Three (Rescue 53 or RS53), single, VH-OSA.

Performs the following key taskings:

  • Police surveillance and patrols with the capacity to carry a STAR Group team
  • search and rescue over land and water
  • CFS command and control
  • plotting of bush fires
  • aero medical back-up (1 patient)
  • neonatal retrieval (takes cot).


See the 5DME Photo Gallery for more images.

Photos by David H.

Produced by 5DME.

Hot Topic Archive Article….

MAC Rescue Helicopter Service – Public Sector Week Event 2009WOW! What a great day. Well worth the look. Lots of photos and video to come from 5DME.MOTOR ACCIDENT COMMISSION RESCUE HELICOPTER SERVICE


On 26 November 2009, as part of Public Service Week, the rescue service was placed on display at the Torrens Parade Ground, King William Road, North Adelaide.


Two rescue helicopters ‘Rescue 51’ a Bell 412 VH-LSA and ‘Rescue 53’ an EC130 VH-OSA ferried in from Adelaide Airport to participate in the proceedings.





Photos by David H.


  • The Rescue Helicopter Service is used by four key emergency services agencies – SA Health, SA Ambulance, SA Country Fire Service and SA Police.
  • SA Health and SA Ambulance use the helicopters to transport critically injured and ill patients from regional S.A. to hospitals.
  • SA Country Fire Service uses the helicopters to collect and disseminate timely and accurate information to the community during a bushfire, and as an aerial command platform to direct fire-fighting activities.
  • SA Police use the helicopters for crime prevention activities, pursuit of motor vehicles and suspects, & to undertake search & rescue operations in conjunction with SA Ambulance.
  • The service conducts more than 1,000 missions each year around S.A.
  • The Attorney-General’s Department manages the MAC Rescue Helicopter Service partnering agreement on behalf of key agencies.
  • MAC (Motor Accident Commission) has sponsored the service since July 2009
  • The multi-agency approach is a good example of how government agencies work together to provide a flexible & effective service for the benefit of the community.
  • The rescue helicopters a Agusta-Bell 412, MBB-Kawasaki BK117 & Eurocopter EC130 are supplied by Australian Helicopters Pty Ltd and are based at Adelaide Airport.

See our Gallery

page for

video and more!


Events like this only go to show how important aviation has become in our community. In emergency cases we are almost dependent on such services.


The Civil Aviation Historical Society of South Australia

Contact: Gordon Oats (email)Notes: This collection is currently not on public display.Time Frame: 2009 Civil Aviation Historical Society of South Australia.
Please Note: Images are of items held in the Society’s collection, which is looking for a good home.
The Civil Aviation Historical Society of South Australia has many items of interest in its collection. 5DME were able to photograph some of the most interesting aviation objects for you to view.

Flight Service Console
ex Broken Hill FSU
Flight Service Console
ex Mt Gambier FSU
High Frequency Radio Direction Finding Receiver Sir Ross & Sir Keith Smith Memorial
Sir Ross & Sir Keith Smith Memorial RAAF Bases in South Australia
Magnetron for CossorSSR Radar
ex ATC Adelaide Airport
Adelaide Airport Taxiway Lighting diagram
Aerodrome runway & taxiway lighting Early Australian valve-operated DME
Test Equipment AT 13 500W HF transmitter,
500W NDB,
2KW HF Transmitter
Aerodrome Rotating Beacon
ex Ceduna Aerodome
Cossor SSR Radar
ex Adelaide Airport
Please see the photo gallery for more items in the care of -:The Civil Aviation Historical Society of South AustraliaPlease Note: This display is not open to the general public but is looking for a good home.


LADS (LASER Airborne Depth Sounder) Fokker F27


LADS (LASER Airborne Depth Sounder) Fokker F27LOCATION: Cairns/AdelaideAirfield: Cairns/AdelaideTime Frame: September 2008-2009 VH-EWP NEWSVideo of the 12- Sept 09 arrival viewVideo departure for test flight 14 Sept 09 view

Night time Sortie 15th Sept 09 view

Video take-off YPAD view

NOTE: Please allow videos to fully load before playing.

Photo Gallery (view) (Gallery 2)


VH-EWP Fokker F27 500 Arrives at YPAD for refit.The Navy Fokker Laser Airborne Depth Sounder (LADS) arrived in Adelaide 12 September 2009. It is to undergo a refit with it’s current equipment compliment to go into the new Dash 8 VH-LCL. The Fokker will be here for some time, at least till Friday 18th. We will keep you up-to-date as information is received. For those that would like to see the aircraft flying, it is going out on Monday morning around 0900 and Tuesday around 1400.You can see a short video of the 13- Sept 09 arrival here.

Departure for test flight 14 Sept 09 (view)

Photo Gallery (view)



About LADS Fokker F-27

The Navy Hydrographic Unit operates a Fokker F27 as an Airborne Laser Depth Sounder. The aircraft is used to map the ocean floor. Using a high powered, pulsed LASER the aircraft scans swathes of the ocean floor more rapidly than a ship performing the same task.


Picture: On Tarmac at Cairns

The LADS F27 is a specially fitted out aircraft. Complete with LASER, Data Logging, Cooling Units and Crew Facilities. The aircraft has been extensively modified to incorporate bay doors under the fuselage, additional fuel tanks, precise navigation systems, and a stabilised platform for the laser.


Picture: Inside LADS


The aircraft is piloted by civillian pilots and the electronic equipment is operated by Navy personel. Modifications to the aircraft include extra fuel tanks. The flight time per sortie can be up to 7 1/2 hours.


Pictures: Cooling Unit (below), Data Logging (right), LASER Platform (bottom right)



Above images courtesy: LADS Staff



The equipment was recently upgraded (2008). The new system has improved performance and operational requirements over the old system.

Specs for the new system are:
  • 240m laser swathe  (at a 5 x 5m grid pattern)
  • Variable grid pattern of 5x5m, 4×4, 3×3, 2x2m (depending on what is being investigated)
  • 990 soundings per second (compared to 168 per second on the old system)
  • 49800 soundings per square km
  • Variable sounding height of aircraft from 1200ft to 2000ft
  • Sounding speed 175 kts

Picture: LADS How It Works

Fixed Infrared beam provides precise height information. Green beam scans ocean floor up to 50 metres deep.

Simulated LASER Scanning

Red Laser is fixed vertically/stationary to measure height.
Green Laser scans a 240m swathe maping the ocean floor.


Overall Specification


Fokker F27-500 ‘Friendship’


2 pilots (civilian) , 2 survey systems operators (Navy)

Aircraft take off weight

20 tonnes

Aircraft transit speed

220 knots

Survey speed

175 knots/295 Feet Per Second/90M Per Second   (145 knots old system)

Operating height

Approx 360-600 metres above the sea surface (1200-2000 feet)

Depth Range

0 to 50 metres

Sounding pattern

240 metres wide, 10 metres nominal spacing between soundings


using GPS satellite navigation (Military Precise Code)

Sortie duration

up to 7½ hours

Personnel (Navy)

2 Hydrographic Survey Officers, 5 Sailors (Hydrographic Specialisation)

Personnel (Contract)

Supported by TENIX LADS Corp with 9 contractors including 3 pilots and 2 aircraft engineers

Home Base

Cairns, however the entire Flight is deployable and has been based out of Mackay, Darwin and Broome for up to 10 weeks

Hot Topic Archive Article….VH-EWP is here.

9th November 2009: VH-EWP (Fokker Friendship 500)  returned to Adelaide to have the LADS gear from VH-LCL installed. No longer flying under the banner of “Navy Survey” she arrived as “EWP” and in a couple of weeks the aircraft should be ready to test the installed LADS gear in flight.

5DME will keep posting news about this aircraft as it comes to hand.

Last Fokker F27 still flying in Australia.

NOTE: VH-EWP will be departing for Essendon on Friday 18th December 2009. So your last chance to see her will be this week (14th-18th). VH-EWP is parked around by the Police Air Wing.

See the LADS page for more information.

Links to other VH-EWP and LADS related items:

Navy – Fondness for Fokkers


Navy – Hydrographic Service


Navy – Hydrographic Survey

Item by David H.

Information courtesy of LADS.

Photos by LADS Staff & David H.


RAAF 10 & 11 Squadrons 70th Anniversary 2009

DATE: 25 September 2009LOCATION: RAAF Edinburgh

Story by David H.

Media Information supplied by RAAF

Airforce Celebrates 70th Anniversary of 10 and 11 Squadrons.


On 25 September 2009 5DME attended celebrations at Edinburgh RAAF Base for the 70th Anniversary of 10 and 11 Squadrons. Up to 1000 former military personnel and guests attended the parade. The Historical Aviation Restoration Society (HARS) attended with several vintage aircraft that were used by these squadrons in their maritime role. These aircraft included a Lockheed Neptune and a Catalina.

10 and 11 Squadrons have had a significant history in the Australian Defence Forces. A detailed History/Data sheet as produced by the RAAF can be downloaded HERE.

Chief of the Air Force, Air Marshal Mark Binskin said, “The squadron’s personnel have been involved in operations including World War II, the Battle of the Coral Sea, the Gulf War, Malayan Emergency and East Timor.”


Air-to-Air imagescourtesy


Click to enlarge

10 and 11 Squadrons valued contributions include:

  • World War II
  • Battle of the Coral Sea
  • Gulf War
  • Malayan Emergency
  • East Timor

Search and Rescue Roles including Great Southern Ocean recoveries of:

  • Tony Bullimore
  • Isabelle Autisier
  • Thierry Dubois

Aircraft used by 10 and 11 Squadrons over 70 years:

  • Sunderland
  • Catalina
  • Lincoln
  • Neptune
  • P-3 Orion
  • AP-3C Orion


Air-to-Air images



Click to enlarge



During the Anniversary Celebrations each squadron unvieled alternative nose and tail art. The new artwork was relevant to World War II significance of one of it’s AP-3C Orion aircraft.

Orions have been at Edinburgh (Home to Orion Aircraft) since 26 May 1968. Orions are to remain in service until 2018 with a phase-out period proceeding this date.

(Photo Opposite: Taken on the day, Orion fly-past)


For more photos see the Defence web site (view)



Air-to-Air images



Click to enlarge



Parade on 25th September 2009



Various events were held throughout the celebrations including a cake cutting ceremony, static display and personnel and guests attended a Gala Dinner on Friday night.


More information:

See our Photo Gallery for more 5DME images.

See the RAAF Gallery for more RAAF images.


10 Squadron

Australian War Memorial 10 Squadron

RAAF Museum 10 Squadron


11 Squadron

Australian War Memorial 11 Squadron

RAAF Museum 11 Squadron



5DME would like to thank 10 and 11 Squadrons and the various RAAF personnel that contributed to this article.

Air-to-Air, Gala Dinner & Sidebar photos courtesy of RAAF (Copyright)

Neptune photo courtesy HARS

Other photos by David Hales.

HARS C-47B (DC-3) visits Adelaide

LOCATION: COBHAM (National Jet)Airfield: AdelaideTime Frame: August 2009 HARS C-47B Adelaide Visit 1 & 2 Aug 2009.
On Saturday 1st August 2009 the HARS DC-3 visited for an overnight at Adelaide Airport. The aircraft was on an excursion to Kalgoorlie WA  from Wollongong via Adelaide and Ceduna.Arrival Video     Departure Video

VH-EAFC-47B (DC-3)


1 & 2 Aug 2009

5DME Gallery Shots


This aircraft (A65-94) is the longest serving C-47B of the RAAF. Delivered in May 1945. Serial A65-94 served in 38, 36 & 34 Squadrons. This was a VIP aircraft in 34 Squadron and was used to transport various visiting dignitaries. HARS have a fact sheet available on this aircraft. Please visit their web site for further information.


VH-EAFC-47B (DC-3)


1 & 2 Aug 2009

5DME Gallery Shots



  • Into service with RAAF 1945
  • Decommissioned 2000
  • 14,600 hours and 55 years old (2000)
  • Longest serving C-47B
  • Acquired by HARS in July 2000
  • Restored and registered VH-EAF
  • First HARS excursion December 2000

5DME have taken a substantial photo collection during this visit. We are also in the process of post-producing video footage and inteviewing. We will compile a page of HARS visits to Adelaide and make it available to view. Please call again to follow our progress.

The 14 passengers and crew departed Adelaide around 0745 (scheduled) for Ceduna then on to Kalgoorlie WA.

5DME would like to thank HARS for their cooperation during the Adelaide visit. Also, we would like to acknowledge the assistance of Cobham (National Jet) and Adelaide Airport Limited.

See more at


Story by David H.