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Rescue chopper needs to raise $1m

Rescue helicopter pilot Marty Hanna and veteran crewman Michael Kerry ready for take-off on a night mission.
Rescue helicopter pilot Marty Hanna and veteran crewman Michael Kerry ready for take-off on a night mission.

SPIRALLING costs in the aviation industry means the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter needs to raise $1 million more than it did last year just to keep the service in the air.

Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter general manager Kris Beavis this week launched the most important fundraising campaign in the chopper’s history, and urged the community not to take the rescue helicopter service for granted.

This year’s operating budget for the lifesaving service is expected to exceed $6.5 million, almost double what it was only four years ago.

Mr Beavis said last year’s global financial crisis didn’t help as donations dropped by almost 12 per cent and rising costs means the service needs to fork out more than $381, 000 per year for fuel alone.

“We have also been hit particularly hard by escalating costs within the aviation industry. Our maintenance costs have soared to $1.6 million this year and of course, the more we fly, the more maintenance our helicopters need,” he said.

Rescue pilots have flown 22 missions in the Clarence Valley area alone in 2010, with each mission costing around $8500.

Donations for the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter’s appeal can be made at any Westpac Bank, at www.helirescue.com.au or by calling 66 27 4444.



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