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Green Charter 2022
Green Charter 2022
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Custom built IOR facility fuels the future of RACQ LifeFlight Rescue
RACQ has opened the pumps on a new bulk fuel storage and management facility at Brisbane, custom built by fuel supplier IOR. Rescue crews can refuel helicopters at a moment's notice, even outside standard hours.
Brian Guthrie with IOR’s Drew Leishman and Bryce Morland.

The Brisbane crew of Australian aeromedical service RACQ LifeFlight Rescue have opened the pumps on a new fuel storage and management facility, custom built by fuel supplier IOR.

“This fuel tank will enable our flight crews to refuel their aircraft and be ready to respond to a critical mission more efficiently,” says general manager of operations Brian Guthrie.

Until now, both rotary and fixed wing aircraft have been refuelled by outside contractors. RACQ LifeFlight Rescue's choppers and jets are refuelled after each mission, so crews are ready to take flight, at a moment's notice.

“Understandably, there are a lot of aircraft in line for fuel at Brisbane airport and our crews have, at times, been left waiting for their turn to fill up,” adds general manager of fixed wing and LifeFlight retrieval medicine Timothy McGuire.

The IOR tank was installed at the Brisbane airport base in December 2021 and has a 55,000 litre capacity; four times bigger than a fuelling truck.

There are several new features to the facility that are improvements on the previous fuel supply arrangements.

“Crews can refuel the aircraft themselves, as opposed to waiting for someone else,” says IOR head of aviation Bryce Morland. “Helicopters can be refuelled at 120 litres per minute, while the fixed wing aircraft refuelling speed is 340 litres a minute.”

The volume of fuel in the tank and ongoing fuel usage is able to be electronically monitored over the internet by both companies, 24 hours a day.

“Once the fuel volume in the tank reaches a certain low level, the IOR logistics team is notified to schedule a truck to come and fill it up again. LifeFlight can also log-in to IOR's online portal and see all fuel usage at the Brisbane base in real time, creating significant efficiencies in reconciling fuel costs, administration and reporting,” says Morland.

In 2021, the Brisbane-based RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter crews clocked up the highest number of flying hours in the LifeFlight rotary wing fleet, spending 1,112 hours in the air, responding to 470 missions. Its air ambulance jets took flight on 185 rescue missions.

In what is believed to be a world first, IOR has also attached an electronic Quality Control Sampling (QCS) cabinet.

“Each day, flight crews are required to test the quality of the fuel before proceeding to refuel aircraft,” explains LifeFlight engineering operations manager Michael Dopking. “IOR is at the forefront of aviation fuel safety innovation in this space, and we're really proud to partner with it in using this equipment. The QCS cabinet will save a significant amount of time and ensure our helicopters and jets are in the best condition and prepared for flight.”

The aviation refuelling facility's estimated value is $500,000. It was built by IOR's infrastructure team in Eagle Farm, Brisbane, before being transported to the base and installed by a specialist team. The rescue crews were then provided extensive safety training in preparation for the tank becoming operational.

“A benefit to LifeFlight is that overhead costs are much more manageable,” adds Morland. “Our aim is to help organisations like RACQ LifeFlight Rescue continue to save lives by taking off as quickly and safely as possible.”

The installation marks the end of a two-year campaign by LifeFlight.

“It has taken the support of the Brisbane airport corporation, our landlords at Xflight Aviation and a considerable upfront financial investment from IOR,” says Guthrie. "The investment from IOR to build and commission the facility was so significant that without its collective, committed and ongoing support, LifeFlight would not have been able to purchase a fuel tank of this calibre. Thank you to everyone who worked so hard to make this project a reality; we are extremely grateful.”

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