THE relocation of the Mitchell Highway helicopter hangar to Orange Airport will not be part of the $13.9 million airport upgrade, but a new facility could be built at the airport to accommodate a 24-hour rescue service, if the state government gives it the go ahead.
Talks between Orange City Council, the NSW Ambulance and CHC Helicopters have indicated all parties support the move, council spokesman Nick Redmond.
“It will be dealt with separately [to the airport upgrade],” he said.
“[But] there are areas out there for future developments.”
NSW Ambulance Rescue Helicopter paramedic manager Nathan Croft said negotiations began 12 months ago and the ambulance service would support the move to the airport if a permanent hangar was built.
“We started off in a temporary facility at the airport and if we do move back again ... we need to move to a purpose built facility,” he said
Mr Croft said it was vital provisions for a 24-hour helicopter rescue service such as paramedic sleeping quarters and adequate hangar space were included in plans.
“There’s no doubt [a 24-hour service] will happen, it’s just a matter of time,” he said.
He said if council sold the land for bulky goods retail as hoped they would need to plan early.
“It will take at least 12 months to set-up a new facility at the airport,” Mr Croft said.
Mr Redmond said the timeframe for the move would depend on when the council receives expressions of interest for the development of the site.
“It’s largely determined by the market,” he said.
He said council may consider building a new facility for the 24-hour helicopter at the airport and relocating the existing hangar to the airport for another service.
Airport Community Committee chair councillor Chris Gryllis said he supported the move but the current tenants of the helicopter hangar should see out their lease before the service is relocated.
“All the infrastructure is [at the airport] for refuelling and additional services,” he said.
“It should be taken into consideration for the planning stages of the airport upgrade.”