Normally based with Mackay Helicopters at Mackay Airport, Eurocopter Deutscland GMBH EC135 T1 VH-ZGI can sometimes be noted operating with Gladstone Helicopters when sistership Eurocopter Deutscland GMBH EC135 P2 VH-ZGZ becomes unserviceable because of scheduled maintenance or unforeseen circumstances.
VH-ZGI and VH-ZGZ are the primary machines for the Maritime Safety Queensland contract awarded to Gladstone Helicopters to satisfy the transfer of local Marine Pilots to off-shore vessels for the safe navigation of shipping into Gladstone Harbour.
Manufactured in 2001, Eurocopter Deutscland GMBH EC135 T1 VH-ZGI is powered by a pair of Turbomeca Arrius 2B1 turboshaft engines while sister-ship VH-ZGZ (albeit manufactured in 2003) is powerd by a pair of Pratt & Whitney Canada PW206B2 turboshafts.
With capacity to seat upto seven passengers or accommodate two crew and two patients (stretches), the EC135 is popular with police and ambulance services throughout the world or as an executive transport, marine transfer platform or general charter utility amongst other roles.
It is worth noting that two of the more prominent operators of the Eurocopter EC135 in Australia is the Victorian and New South Wales Police Force.
Gladstone Helicopters incorporating sister company Mackay Helicopters are members of the Aviator Group which itself and associated companies operate a mixed fleet of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters from its bases in Queensland, New South Wales, Western Australia and Papua New Guinea.
At the time of my visit, VH-ZGZ was undergoing scheduled maintenance with some of the work being performed at the Gladstone base however the machine eventually made it's way north for the completion of other servicing requirements. During the current scheduled downtime of the chopper, VH-ZGI was the interim replacement.
As a proven and reliable platform, the Eurocopter has become widely used amongst police and ambulance services throughout the world and is also no stranger as an executive transport.
Manufactured in 2003, Eurocopter EC135 P2 VH-ZGZ is powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney Canada PW206B2 turboshafts. Of interest, sistership VH-ZGI (EC135 T1) was manufactured in 2001 and is powered by a pair of Turbomeca Arrius 2B1 turboshafts.
Further research revealed the Eurocopter EC135 continues to be offered with either Pratt & Whitney (designated EC135 P ?) or Turbomeca (designated EC135 T ?) turboshaft engines with each brand producing only marginal differences in power ratings.
While not necessarily specific to VH-ZGZ, the Eurocopter EC135 P2 is capable of cruising at 137 knots (158 mph, 254km/h), certified to obtain a service ceiling of 20 000 ft (6096 m) and achieve an approximate range of upto 635km (395 miles).