The Westpac Rescue Helicopter based in Christchurch is a BK-117-B2 ZK-HJC and is operated by GCH Aviation, and the Principal Sponsor is Westpac NZ.

The BK 117-B2 is a twin-engined medium transport helicopter with a global reputation as a reliable and versatile aircraft ideally suited to rescue operations.

The spacious cabin/cargo compartment of the BK-117 is easily accessed through two-hinged crew doors, two large rear clamshell doors and sliding side doors which also allow versatile operation of the aircraft’s winching capabilities.

The Westpac Rescue Helicopter has easy loading of stretchers (even with rotors turning), availability of state-of-the-art medical equipment, and low vibration level during flight. This makes the BK-117 Westpac Rescue Helicopter one of the leading twin-engined Aeromedical and Search and Rescue helicopters in the world.

The Westpac Rescue Helicopter has a replacement cost of $6.5 million, excluding the rescue, medical and avionics equipment it carries. There is well over $1 million of equipment installed in this rescue helicopter.


Engine – Twin Allied Signal, LTS101-850B2
Shaft horsepower – 850 HP each engine
Crew – 1 pilot, 2 paramedics
Gross weight – 3350kg
Empty weight – 2143kg including hoist and crew seating
Hook weight – 1200kg
Length – 13.00m
Width – 2.70m
Height – 3.36m
Rotor diameter – 11.00m
Max speed – 150 knots / 280kph
Cruise speed – 120 knots / 222kph
Fuel burn-off – 300 ltr/hr
Range – 540 kilometres
Hover max height - 10,000ft / 3,048m
Service ceiling – 17,000ft / 5,181m, density altitude
Winch capacity – 275kg, 76m cable

Please note: These figures are provided as a guideline only. Performance varies with changes in temperature, altitude, and operational activity.

We rescued 959 people

in 2018 alone


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