19 Apr 2017

Two world-leading marine pilot transfer helicopters are currently under construction at Mackay airport, as they are readied for service at North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation (NQBP).

Treasurer Curtis Pitt said the Airbus helicopters were being commissioned after NQBP’s decision to award a contract for the supply of marine helicopter pilot transfer services to local company Mackay Helicopters.

“The NQBP ports of Hay Point and Mackay are two of Queensland most significant economic assets so it’s absolutely essential that and safe and efficient pilotage is essential for their success,” Mr Pitt said.

“The delivery of these aircraft to Mackay Helicopters as part of the new contract is a real boost for a local company, and for the marine pilots who ensure ships safely and efficiently use our ports.

“I can’t wait to see NQBP’s brand new helicopters constructed and helping to guide Queensland trade from the skies.”

Ports Minister Mark Bailey said the helicopter contract was part of a joint tender process run by NQBP and Gladstone Ports Corporation.

“I was particularly pleased that two major Queensland government owned corporations could work together through a robust, competitive tender process,” Mr Bailey said.

“By working together, the decision to place both marine pilot transfer services to market as one parcel of work has helped to achieve the best value for both NQBP and GPC.”

Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert said the Airbus helicopters being commissioned for NQBP are renowned worldwide for their safety and versatility, and are well suited for the transfer of marine pilots on and off ships.

“Over the course of the next few weeks, Mackay Helicopter pilots, who fly on behalf of the Ports, will receive specialist training and simulation,” Mrs Gilbert said.

“The new aircraft for NQBP’s use, will be based at the Port of Hay Point helipad and is on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

NQBP Chief Executive Officer, Steve Lewis said helicopters have long been used by ports as the most safe and efficient mode of transport for transferring marine pilots to vessels.

“Helicopters allow port operations to run smoothly, because they can be operated in a wide range of conditions.

“They provide us with rapid response capabilities to any operational needs or in the unlikely event of an emergency”, Mr Lewis said.

Chief Executive Officer of Aviator Group, which operates Mackay Helicopters, Ian Vanderbeek said the new and improved helicopters are at the leading edge of safety standards.

“These new helicopters are the current generation of aircraft and will serve the ports well over the next five to eight years”.

“We are delighted to be continuing to provide this service to our port operators, who do a great job in ensuring the safe and efficient marine pilotage operation of our trade gateways”.