New Helicopter

A new era, but same people, same rescue service, different helicopters.

From the first of November, there are changes to the Hawke’s Bay rescue helicopter service. Most are behind the scenes, but the one you may notice is that our traditional black rescue helicopter will be a white one for a month, then it will be yellow.

You can be assured that our life saving service will be operating from Hawke’s Bay 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and remains completely free of charge to everyone in our community.


Handing over the white helicopter to be used for a month until our modernised permanent yellow chopper arrives is Chris Moody, Base Manager and Pilot from Palmerston North and Jeremy Bruce, Lowe Corporation rescue helicopter Pilot based in Hastings.



The highly qualified and experienced team of pilots and crew that has worked with the Hawke’s Bay service will remain. All other previous staff have been retained.


The Ministry of Health and ACC are keen to see New Zealand’s ambulance helicopter service modernised over the next 10 years. The joining up of five like minded charitable trusts in the central North Island, all focused on serving their local communities, is an important first step.

With modernisation in mind, we have negotiated to lease an ex German rescue helicopter that is currently being rebuilt and extensively refurbished to the tune of $US1 million. It is being modernised with the very latest in technology including the most up-to-date safety enhancements and navigational equipment.

We expect delivery of this modernised twin engine yellow helicopter (a BK-117D2) in December this year.

Until then, we are using a white twin engine helicopter on loan from Palmerston North from our sister trust, the Philips Trust. This helicopter is also more modern to meet health and safety requirements expected by the HBDHB. It is ideally suited for both the pre-hospital rescue missions and inter-hospital patient transfers.


Each year our crew performs over 300 missions within the region, with over 80 percent of these providing urgent medical transport for the critically ill or injured. This work continues in Hawke’s Bay 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.



The annual cost to run the Hawke’s Bay service is approximately $2.5 million. Half of this is provided by fees for service, the balance must continue to come from our sponsorships and donations from the community. Donations are welcome through our website.

All funds raised in Hawke’s Bay will continue to go towards keeping our local rescue helicopter service here. Lowe Corporation, our sponsors and supporters are all behind the new direction. We thank them for their continued support.



Already our partnership with the four other like-minded charitable trusts from around central North Island is proving beneficial. Being supplied an interim helicopter for the next month by Philips Trust is a prime example. Collectively, we have gravitas in our negotiations with Government. We expect more positive results from our cooperative and collaborative efforts into the future.



Charlie Beetham, one of our former pilots, is back training our current pilots and crew as CAARL’s Check and Training Captain. He’s pictured here with Hawke’s Bay Pilot Jeremy Bruce.


What is CAARL?

CAARL - Central Air Ambulance Rescue Limited is a not for profit charitable organisation. It is owned equally by the five trusts that provide air rescue services in the North Island south of the Bombay Hills:

• Eastland Helicopter Rescue Trust (EHRT)
• Hawke’s Bay Rescue Helicopter Trust (HBRHT)
• Philips Search and Rescue Trust (PSRT)
• Taranaki Rescue Helicopter Trust (TRHT)
• Life Flight Trust (LFT) Wellington

The eight helicopter bases covered by CAARL are: Gisborne, Hastings, Palmerston North, Taupo, Hamilton, Tauranga, New Plymouth, Wellington.

As part of our 12-month implementation plan, CAARL has Ministry of Health and ACC agreement to have a fleet of nine BK-117 helicopters, plus a spare.

This will ensure our service to our communities is maintained at the highest level.

Press Release here 

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