A new ‘flying intensive care unit' has been formally dedicated for emergency aeromedical service on behalf of the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) to communities in South and Central Australia. The AU$7-million aircraft, VH-FXN, is the second aeromedically-equipped PC-12 plane to be delivered in a two-year programme to replace four ageing aircraft in the service’s Central Operations' fleet by mid-2017, said the RFDS. The new machine replaces a now-retired PC-12, VH-FMP, which had flown 17,000 hours over 21 years of service.
In its first two months of service, VH-FXN transported 173 patients from 31 regional and remote locations throughout South Australia. Its maiden flight on 6 September was the retrieval of an 11-year-old boy with spinal injuries from Yorketown.
RFDS Central Operations chairman Loretta Reynolds commented that the purchase of the four PC-12s will be followed in late 2018 by the delivery of the medically-equipped PC-24 jet aircraft. The jet will be the first permanently configured aeromedical jet in South Australia, said the service.
“The capital-raising and acquisition programme of the four medically-equipped PC-12s has been supported with a total of $4 million in assistance from the Commonwealth Government, along with the financial support of our corporate sponsors, fundraising and donations from the community,” said Reynolds. “We thank them for their generosity, and commitment to the Flying Doctor.”
John Lynch, CEO of RFDS Central Operations, said the investment in state-of-the-art aircraft was a key element of a five-year, $65-million capital expenditure programme approved by the Board, which included completion of the new Adelaide Base, construction of the RFDS Darwin Tourist Facility and medical equipment upgrades of $1 million per annum. He continued: “These major projects are critical to the RFDS maintaining its proven track record of innovation, outstanding patient care and the highest safety standards to benefit our staff, health delivery partners and the community we serve.”
VH-FXN is one of 11 medically-equipped Pilatus PC-12 aircraft owned and operated by RFDS Central Operations across its aeromedical bases in Adelaide, Port Augusta and Alice Springs.