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Air Force's new helicopters and hangar unveiled

Air Force's new helicopters and hangar unveiled
The A109LUH takes to the sky for a handling display [20110513_OH_K1023900_0036.jpg]

13 May 2011

The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) today unveiled its new A109 Light Utility Helicopters (A109LUH) and opened the new hangar where they will be housed during a ceremony at Air Force Base Ohakea, attended by the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defence and other dignitaries.

Chief of Air Force Air Vice-Marshal Peter Stockwell said that the new helicopters represent the start of a significant leap in technology for the Air Force’s Rotary Wing.

“The three helicopters are the first of five A109LUH to replace the Bell 47 Sioux. The new helicopters are lightweight, with twin-engines, a modern glass cockpit and retractable wheel undercarriage.

“The A109LUH is part of a Defence Force helicopter training system that includes computer based training, a procedural trainer and simulator. This provides a cost effective means of training aircrew prior to operational conversion onto the NH90 or SH2G helicopters.

“Along with its training capability, the new A109LUH helicopter will be used for light utility tasks in support of the other Services and government agencies.

“The arrival of the A109LUH is a significant and exciting step in the upgrade and replacement of the Air Force’s rotary and fixed-wing platforms. This will see the RNZAF equipped with the capability necessary to operate even more effectively and efficiently in the twenty-first century,” said AVM Peter Stockwell.

Together with the unveiling of the new helicopters the Air Force also opened the new Number 3 Squadron hangar that will be home to the A109LUH and NH90 helicopters.

AVM Stockwell said the state-of-the-art facilities were necessary to house the new helicopter fleet as the layout required would have been impossible to accomplish within any of the existing 1940s-era hangars currently in use at Ohakea.

“The RNZAF is proud now to have one of the most modern hangar facilities in the southern hemisphere. It is important that while we invest in our equipment, we also invest in our people by making the place where they work as modern, safe and effective as possible.”

The new hangar facilities were created and built through a partnership between the Air Force and local and national companies. GHD Ltd designed the hangar based on a concept developed by Beca and the RNZAF, while the main construction contractor for the building was Ebert Construction Ltd based in Wellington. The contractor for the site works and hardstanding was Higgins Ltd based in Palmerston North.

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For more information please contact Anna Sussmilch, Senior Communications Adviser, Air Force, Defence Communications Group, on 021 676 338.

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