The New Zealand aviation landscape is set to dramatically change over the coming months with the construction of a multi-million dollar FBO (Fixed Base Operation), Air Ambulance and Air Rescue facility at Christchurch Airport owned and operated by one of New Zealand’s leading aviation operators, GCH Aviation Group.
The multi-purpose operation is the largest of its kind in Australasia offering a fully integrated, single-purpose Emergency Medical Service air ambulance facility, and a purpose-built reception gateway base for the rapidly growing tourism and corporate jet market. The new 9,000sq m building is currently under construction air-side along with a new runway access at Christchurch International Airport.
This will allow for a dedicated reception and entry point service to be provided for the corporate jets, which arrive at Christchurch International Airport, currently at the rate of around 90 annually.
As well, the new facility will be able to provide specific aircraft parking, hangar parking and maintenance services, not currently offered to these niche-market travellers.
The advantages for Christchurch as well as the wider New Zealand tourism market are huge in recognising the growth of corporate and executive air travel and the provision of dedicated facilities to service them.
The new Air Centre is being developed and built with the support of a wide range of local and national companies, with the project headed by Street and Cook Construction, each who have recognised the benefit not only to the local tourism economy, but also to the wider community through the provision of a centralised Emergency Medical Air Facility.
For over 30 years Garden City Helicopters and the New Zealand Flying Doctor Service (GCH Aviation Group) has been a premier provider and operator of 24 hour, 7 days a week, professional air ambulance and air rescue operations for the Canterbury, West Coast, Nelson, Tasman and Marlborough Regions.
Ensuring the long term viability of Emergency Medical Services is the support of the Canterbury West Coast Air Rescue Trust, the Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter Trust, and the New Zealand Flying Doctor Trust who contribute financially on an on-going basis towards the training, equipment and standing costs on a best endeavours basis. This is also achieved through the support of the Westpac Banking Corporation as the principal sponsors of the Westpac Rescue Helicopter in Canterbury.
Garden City Helicopters and the New Zealand Flying Doctor Service have achieved a world-class professional service through a cooperative administrative partnership with these Trusts and in conjunction with ACC, Ministry of Health, DHB’s, New Zealand Police, Rescue Co-ordination Centre and many other Government agencies.
The company also has experience in supporting many disaster relief operations throughout New Zealand and in the recent cyclones which devastated Vanuatu and Fiji.
GCH Aviation Group is committed to maintaining a constant operational readiness, supported by highly trained personnel, specialist equipment and maintenance schedules, of the highest standards.
Local businessman John Currie and his sons have established and operated Garden City Helicopters and the New Zealand Flying Doctor Service for over three decades and under their stewardship has increased its reputation for innovation, quality and safety to become one of New Zealand’s leading aviation operators.
The company holds a current Aviation Industry Platinum Safety Award.
Today, as the company develops a succession strategy for the future, that reputation is about to be further enhanced, with the opening of the full integrated, single purpose EMS Air Ambulance Facility at Christchurch International Airport, which will act as an operations centre for the company’s Canterbury Westpac Rescue Helicopter and New Zealand Flying Doctor Service.
The new facility will include modern hangers housing aircraft, maintenance workshops, training and briefing rooms with secure storage for specialised medical and rescue equipment. An internal ambulance bay and a patient transfer area is designed to enhance patient care.
The on-site facilities include re-fuelling, night operation lighting, and latest communication equipment and IT systems for 24 hour, 7 day a week rapid response to ensure effective and immediate deployment of rescue and air ambulance crews.
The siting of this facility, which is expected to be in operation by March 2017 located on the city side of Christchurch International Airport, ensures the most expeditious transfer of critical care patients to Christchurch Hospital when every minute counts.