The National Safety Council of Australia

and the Beech Super King Air

 

VH-NSG and VH-NSD photographed near the NSCA base at Morwell.
(Picture: NSCA via Graham Vonhoff Collection)

(All images on this page are linked to larger versions)

The National Safety Council of Australia was founded in Victoria in 1928 as a coalition of non-profit organisations with the objective of fostering safety in industry, on the road and in the home. The direction of the Victorian Division of the organisation changed significantly in 1982 with the appointment of one John Friedrich as its director. German by birth, Friedrich was a charismatic yet enigmatic, hard-working character with an ability to get things done by circumventing red tape. He set about a dramatic expansion of the Victorian Division into an advanced rescue operation run along paramilitary lines. By the mid eighties, the NSCAV had amassed a large fleet of aeroplanes and helicopters as well as a converted 42 metre, 588 tonne oil rig tender the M.V. Blue Nabila which was fitted with a helipad. The fleet also included a 13m sail training yacht, 40 trucks, earthmoving equipment, jet skis, various inflatables and a small manned submersible. The NSCAV assembled an elite cadre of highly trained rescue parachute jumpers and also ventured into training dogs and pigeons for use in rescues. In 1984, its staff totalled 100 but by 1989 staff had grown to 450. At its zenith, the organisation had an annual operating budget of $90 million. Its rapidly assembled fleet of aircraft, all painted a distinctive shade of yellow with black trim, raised many eyebrows as industry observers began to wonder where the money was coming from.

The answer came in late 1988 when it emerged that funds had been borrowed from the banks against assets claimed to be shipping containers full of rescue equipment. It was claimed that these fully equipped containers were hired out to other organisations. It transpired that while the containers did exist, the contents did not! Friedrich estimated that there were 200 of these containers by the time of the collapse. Matters were not helped by the banks themselves who were aggressively offering loans without due diligence. Friedrich claimed that he never approached the banks - the banks always came to him. When challenged in March 1989, Friedrich disappeared and a much-publicised police hunt ensued. After sixteen days, Friedrich was located in Perth and extradited to Melbourne where he spent six weeks in prison before being released on bail in May 1989. The official record shows that Friedrich, fearing imprisonment and deportation as an illegal immigrant, took his own life on 26 July 1991. By this time, the conspiracy theories abounded, including the seemingly obligatory claims of gun running and CIA involvement. When the organisation collapsed, its debts were estimated at a quarter of a billion dollars. However, it would appear that Friedrich never benefitted personally from the fraudulent activity with all the funds going into the rapid development of what must be regarded as a remarkable organisation. When the NSCA collapsed, there ensued an urgent scramble to source replacement services from multiple other organisations. The collapse resulted in a mass disposal of company assets, many to other organisations who used them to provide the same services previously supplied by the NSCA.

During its brief existence, the NSCA Victorian Division operated many types of aircraft such as Beech 200, Nomad, Dornier 228 and various Bell twin helicopters. Some of these types were already optimised for the rescue role but the Beech 200 was not and these aircraft received significant modifications. This is the story of those aircraft and how they were modified.

The Beech 200 jump door had its genesis in tragedy. On 17 July 1983, Aero Commander 685 VH-WJC ditched in Bass Strait following fuel supply problems. Despite the use of no fewer than twenty-three (23) aeroplanes and helicopters in the search and despite having sighted the pilot alive in the water, it ultimately proved impossible to effect his recovery. As a result of the inquiry that followed, the Department of Aviation asked the NSCA to develop a method of reducing response times. The NSCA's response was to develop a pararescue capability whereby a highly trained and fully equipped parachute jumper could be delivered directly to a crash site on land or at sea. Such a capability had not existed in Australia previously.

The Beech Super King Air 200 was already a popular type in Australia as it was fast, pressurised and had good range. However, the aeroplane did not lend itself to dropping stores or rescue parachute jumpers because its cabin door could not be opened in flight. All Beech 200s featured an airstair door which was hinged at floor level and opened outwards. Later models included a large cargo door which opened outwards and up with the smaller airstair door being inset into the larger cargo door. The aircraft was certified to operate with the airstair door removed but this was not always convenient and the ability to transit at high speed and altitude was lost. Consequently, John Friedrich himself approached the Australian Beechcraft agents, Hawker Pacific, to study the feasibility of an inwards opening jump door.

Hawker Pacific engineers solved the problem by removing the airstair door and building from scratch a new plug type door to the same dimensions but opening inwards and sliding forward on rails. The airstair door was set aside for possible future use but its external piano-hinge fitting remained on the modified aircraft. Concurrent with the jump door modification, the aircraft was also fitted with two large bubble observation windows on both sides of the fuselage aft of the door. These windows were already a Beech option for the King Air. Also two drop tubes were fitted in the cabin floor aft of the door. As with the inwards opening jump door itself, the aircraft had to be depressurised before these drop tubes could be used. As part of the jump door mod, the aircraft were also fitted with a wind deflector at the leading edge of the door opening. This deflector consisted of a narrow flat strip which made a minimal intrusion into the airflow. So small was this deflector that it sometimes cast a shadow which created the illusion that the door was cracked open but outwards! Various avionic modifications completed the transformation into a very capable rescue aircraft.

The first aircraft to be modified was VH-NSD which was imported from the United States and registered to NSCA on 17 April 1984. Although the NSCA fleet included six Beech 200s, only four aircraft were fitted with the modified jump door. All these aircraft were Beech 200C with the large cargo door. The following table lists the six Beech Super King Airs operated by the NSCA. The four aircraft with the modified jump door are shown as Door Type 3.

 

 

The NSCA Beech Super King Air Fleet

 

 

REGN
TYPE
MSN
TAIL #
DOOR *
DATE
REMARKS
VH-NSD
BEECH 200C
BL-55
21
3
03MAR82
Registered N1844B.
 
17APR84
On Register to NSCA as VH-NSD.
30JUN89
Off Register from NSCA.
89
With North Qld Emergency Response Group, Cairns.
14FEB97
Registered VH-FDA to RFDS (Qld Section).
20JUL06
Registered N356AA.
08DEC09
Registered N55A. Current to Dynamic Avlease Inc.
VH-NSE
BEECH 200C
BL-10
22
2
16JUN80
Registered N6726V.
 
11AUG80
Registered VH-AKV to Drayton Investments.
03APR83
Photographed at Mangalore in NSCA markings but still as VH-AKV and fitted with a hyperbaric chamber.
31MAY84
On Register to NSCA as VH-NSE. Fire Mapping Unit. Also operated in Canada on alternate seasons.
01JUN86
Registered C-GWSQ to Conair, Canada.
24DEC87
Reverted to VH-NSE.
07APR88
Registered C-GWSQ to Conair, Canada.
13SEP88
Reverted to VH-NSE.
05JAN89
Off register from NSCA.
28APR89
Reverted to VH-AKV. Operated by Lloyd in NSCA yellow.
27AUG92
Registered C-FAMB.
MAR96
Registered 5Y-BLA.
28MAR10
Gear up landing in Kenya. Subsequently repaired.
VH-NSF
BEECH 200C
BL-50
23
3
26JUL82
Registered N18451.
 
27FEB84
Registered ZS-LOF.
19NOV84
Registered N723RK.
05AUG85
On Register to NSCA as VH-NSF.
17AUG89
Off Register from NSCA. Registered N54HF same day.
25AUG89
Departed Essendon as N54HF.
05JUL90
Registered N58AS.
02OCT07
Registered N150RL. Current to Tigress Air.
VH-NSG
BEECH 200C
BL-9
24
3
01MAY80
Registered N6725R.
 
30JUN80
Registered VH-KZL. Operated by Advance Airlines and AvDev.
25MAY85
On Register to NSCA as VH-NSG.
16FEB89
Off Register from NSCA. Reverted to VH-KZL. Operated by Lloyd/Skywest.
24DEC02
Registered VH-NTG.
01SEP18
Current to Aus West Airlines, Jandakot, WA.
VH-NSS
BEECH 200
BB-12
25
1
01MAY74
Registered N4473W.
 
18OCT74
Registered VH-THS to Thiess Bros., Brisbane.
16MAY86
On Register to NSCA as VH-NSS. Fire Mapping Unit.
29APR87
Registered C-GYSK to Conair, Canada.
24OCT87
Photographed at West Sale as C-GYSK.
03NOV87
Reverted to VH-NSS.
29SEP88
Off Register from NSCA.
04APR89
Registered VH-NIH to Norfolk Island Airlines.
02MAR91
Registered to Western Pacific Aviation.
12JAN93
Registered N193GA.
04NOV13
Registration cancelled. Parted out at Lake City, Florida still marked as VH-NIH.
VH-NSR
BEECH 200C
BL-40
30
3
27JUL81
Registered N3837R.
 
03DEC82
Registered VH-OTH to Lloyd Aviation.
11AUG83
Registered N44344 to Westjet Inc.
22MAY86
On Register to NSCA as VH-NSR.
01JUN89
Off Register from NSCA.
10FEB90
Photographed in Cairns in Lloyd colours.
10JUL92
Registered OY-GEB.
02DEC05
Registered ZS-PRB.
09APR14
Registered N5128B to IAL Corp.
16JUL14
Registered N250NC to IAL Corp.
22AUG17
Registered N250NC to Ingproyet Aviation, Opa Locka, Florida. Current.

 

* DOOR TYPE
1
Standard single airstair door.
2
Standard large cargo door incorporating a standard outward opening airstair door.
3
Standard large cargo door incorporating a modified inward opening jump door.

 

 

 

The Jump Door Mod

 

 

NSCA parachute jumpers about to exit a King Air via the jump door.

 

The Jump Door in its assembly jig.

 

With locking mechanism added.

 

The open Jump Door looking forward.

 

The open Jump Door looking aft.

 

The Jump Door closed.

 

The Jump Door partially open.

 

The Cargo Door open.

 

The Cargo Door open.

 

Observation Bubble and Drop Tubes.

 

Observation Bubble and Drop Tubes.

 

 

 

The NSCA Beech Super King Airs

 

 

VH-NSD

VH-NSD
VH-NSD
VH-NSD
VH-FDA
 

VH-NSE

VH-AKV
VH-AKV
VH-AKV
VH-AKV
VH-NSE
 

VH-NSF

VH-NSF
 

VH-NSG

VH-KZL
VH-NSG
VH-NSG
VH-NSG
VH-KZL
 

VH-NSR

VH-OTH
VH-NSR
VH-NSR
 

VH-NSS

VH-THS
VH-THS
VH-NSS
VH-NIH

 

 

NSCA Photo Album


NSCA Parajumpers
 
Beech Queen Air VH-FWG
 
NSCA Chief Pilot Graham Vonhoff
 
The Drager Duocom Hyperbaric Chamber
 
 
Loading the chamber into a Beech 200.

 

 

Download the NSCA Fleet List

This PDF is believed to be a comprehensive listing of all aircraft operated by the
NSCA Victorian Division.

Please advise any errors or omissions to historian@qam.com.au

 

 

SOURCES
1
The National Safety Council Fraud - Regulatory Slip or Systemic Regulatory Failure? by Myles McGregor-Lowndes, Associate Professor, Program on Nonprofit Corporations, Queensland University of Technology.
2
Australian Dictionary of Biography, Friedrich, John (19501991) by Frank Bongiorno
http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/friedrich-john-15506
3
Tony Arbon, AustAirData.
4
FAA Register.
5
Freebird Aviation Database.
6
Noel Nas, retired Hawker Pacific engineer.
7
John Friedrich and Richard Flanagan, Codename IAGO, Heinemann, 1991.
8
BASI, Special Investigation Report 833-1017, Search and Rescue Activities Associated with the Ditching of Rockwell 685 Aircraft VH-WJC in Bass Strait, Tasmania 17 July 1983
 

 

Compiled by Ron Cuskelly

 

To view this page as it was designed please click HERE

 

Issue
Date
Remarks
2
30JUN19
Added air-to-air images of
VH-AKV VH-NSD VH-NSG
Also added a Photo Album section.
All images courtesy of Graham Vonhoff, Chief Pilot of NSCA.
1
28NOV18
Original issue.