Auckland Airport have announced three new additions to their marine fleet, a 11m monohull rescue boat, a 12m catamaran and a Griffon 2000TD hovercraft.
Having operated Griffon Hovercraft for over 15 years in an airport search and rescue role, Auckland Airport unveiled their second Griffon 2000TD, increasing its diversity of marine rescue fleet.
Auckland Airport is surrounded by water, which is covered by mud flats during low tide, meaning a hovercraft is the only option available. Adam Littlewood, Chief Executive of Auckland Airport said ''When we're in an environment like this with mudflats and large tidal flows it's important we've got two options at either end of the runway.''
The 12.7m long, Griffon 2000TD offers the airport the required amphibious rescue capability, which cannot be matched by conventional rescue vessels. The primary role of the hovercraft is to get to the crash site in the harbour and deploy the life rafts. The hovercraft carries six liferafts, each capable of carrying 30 people, the hovercraft together with the commander control catamaran and monohull can rescue up to 500 people. ''The diverse range of seacraft were designed to ensure rescue equipment could be deployed in any condition, including significant tidal flows and mudflats,'' said Adam Littlewood.
Deputy Crew Chief Tony Beattie said the first hovercraft supplied over 15 years ago has proven to be the best solution for Auckland Airport. At low tide hovercraft were the only vessels able to navigate the sandbanks and mud, at high tide the hovercraft could still be used along with the rescue boats.
Before the second hovercraft was acquired a helicopter was used as cover during maintenance work on the first hovercraft, however this was a costly alternative.