Bingara airstrip the current site for helicopter use

July 19, 2017

In spite of landing in a seemingly successful test at the Bingara MPS helipad last Thursday, the Westpac Rescue Helicopter will use the Bingara Airstrip to collect patients to transfer to larger hospitals.

At last Thursday’s Council committee meetings, Councillors mentioned the condition of the access road at the Bingara Airstrip in light of the fact that the airstrip was to be used for use by the Westpac Rescue Helicopter.

Councillors stated that the new, larger, helicopter was unable to land at the helipad at the hospital, as the rotor blades may hit something, and the proximity of the gas tanks also could pose a problem.

Cr. Marilyn Dixon said the chopper was unable to use Gwydir Oval because it compacts the ground too much.

As a result, they said, the helicopter had to use the airstrip, so upkeep of the access road is even more important.

The new Westpac Rescue Helicopter conducting a test landing at the Bingara MPS.


Right on cue, not long after the Councillors finished their discussions a noise was heard over the Council building in Bingara.  “What’s that?” asked one of the Councillors.

“A helicopter”, was the reply.

It was indeed the new Westpac Rescue Helicopter which shortly after landed on the Bingara MPS helipad.
Sometimes, patients need to be transported by air ambulance, which makes all weather access to the airstrip important even if it is not needed by the helicopter.

Executive Director Rural and Regional Health Services, Susan Heyman, has issued the following statement.

“The NSW Ambulance and Westpac Rescue Helicopter have been conducting test flights to helipads in the northern part of our District in between missions.

“This is to familiarise air and medical crews with the area and to assess helipads. This is anticipated to continue for the coming months, after which we hope to receive a recommendation about preferred landing sites.

“In the meantime, the NSW Ambulance and Westpac Rescue Helicopter will land at Bingara Airport when called to transport a patient from the MPS to a larger facility.

The helipad at Warialda MPS remains in use.

“This change to the landing site at Bingara does not affect the aircraft’s ability to respond to emergencies. As has always been the case, when dispatched to respond to emergencies, helicopter pilots will land in an area that is as safe and nearby to the patient as possible.

The helicopter regularly lands in locations that are not designated helipads.  “In the past, the helicopter has
used the helipad at the hospital for inter-hospital patient transfers.  Before patients are retrieved via helicopter or road ambulance they are stabilised in hospital and continue to be cared for until the planned transport arrives. This will continue to be the case as road paramedics will transport patients from the hospital to the airport.

“Earlier this year, a new fleet of AW139 helicopters started work in our area. The new aircraft have been delivered as part of the NSW Government’s $151.2 million new helicopter retrieval network that is delivering high quality clinical care faster and safer than ever before.

“The Bingara and Warialda MPS helipads have been assessed as part of a Ministry of Health state-wide aviation audit of NSW public hospital helipads. The audit has been preempted by the roll out of new guidelines for new hospital developments and major redevelopments.

“The audit was carried out to benchmark against the new requirements.”

View Bingara air strip  >> (links to external site)