Graphic: A jet aircraft with an RFDS logo. People in high-vis clothing push a hospital stretcher with a person lying on top.

RFDS enters jet age with game-changer in aeromedical care

Date published

29 Apr 2019

The communities of South Australia and the Northern Territory will soon be cared for 24/7 by the world’s first purpose-built aeromedical jet, the RFDS Medi-Jet 24.

The ultimate ‘flying intensive care unit’, the RFDS Medi-Jet 24 packages the RFDS’ signature ICU aeromedical interior and seamless patient loading system with the unparalleled performance and versatility of the new Pilatus PC-24 Super Versatile Jet.

Graphic: A woman and two men stand wearing business suits in front of a jet aircraft. The aircraft has a RFDS and S Kidman and Co logo on the side.

“Funded by bequests, our corporate sponsors and donations from the community, the $13 million RFDS Medi-Jet 24 will enhance patient care and help save more lives,” Tony Vaughan ASM, CEO of RFDS Central Operations (serving SA/NT), said at the jet’s official unveiling today.

“The RFDS Medi-Jet 24 will slash the flying time of long-haul critical patient evacuations, as well as provide the capacity to transfer three stretchered ICU patients and four clinicians on the one mission,” Mr Vaughan said.

“Another unique feature of the RFDS Medi-Jet 24 is our custom rear patient loading door with built-in stretcher loader which will further reduce total mission times by the safer and quicker loading of patients and specialist medical equipment,” he said.

Four years in the design and construction, the RFDS Medi-Jet 24 is one of only three purpose-built aeromedical jets in the world – one to serve communities through the central corridor of the country from the RFDS Adelaide Base to the RFDS Darwin Base, and the other two with RFDS Western Operations located in Perth and Broome.

Graphic: A woman and two men stand wearing business suits in front of a jet aircraft. The aircraft has a RFDS and S Kidman and Co logo on the side.

Speaking at the unveiling, the SA Minister for Health and Wellbeing, Hon Stephen Wade MLC, said over the past 90-plus years, the RFDS had become a vital part of life for outback communities and is well-respected by all South Australians.

“The addition of the RFDS Medi-Jet 24 further cements the RFDS’ well-earned and hard-won reputation, and will further enhance South Australia’s aeromedical response capability,” said Minister Wade (pictured with RFDS CEO Tony Vaughan ASM and Chairman Loretta Reynolds).

“While the people of this state hope that they will never need the services provided by the RFDS, they are both immensely proud and extremely grateful that the RFDS continues to provide all South Australians with the very best of health care, every hour of the day and every day of the year.”

Following the completion of flight training and crew orientation, the RFDS Medi-Jet 24 is scheduled to commence operational service in June 2019.

“An additional asset to the RFDS’ fleet of medically-equipped Pilatus PC-12 aircraft in South and Central Australia, the RFDS Medi-Jet 24 will boost operational capacity and critical response times for long-haul and interstate evacuations,” Mr Vaughan added.

“The RFDS Medi-Jet 24 is there for the interstate transfer of a critically-ill Adelaide resident in the middle of the night for an emergency organ transplant, or the retrieval of a critically-ill patient from Alice Springs to specialist care in Adelaide or Darwin hospitals,” he said.

Graphic: Interior view of aeromedical jet. Two medical staff in uniforms tend to a patient lying on a hospital stretcher. Her head is bloody.

Mr Vaughan said the speed of the jet in the air was one thing, but what put the RFDS Medi-Jet 24 in a class of its own was its bespoke operational features designed and required specifically for aeromedical services, including:

- custom rear patient loading door – safer, quicker loading of patients and specialist medical equipment;

- built-in patient stretcher loader – optimum patient safety and reduced risk of  injury to clinicians;

- ICU capability for three stretchered patients – enhanced response to mass casualty incidents or natural disasters;

- advanced bariatric solution – enhanced stretcher and stretcher-loader weight lifting capabilities;

- right-engine Quiet Power Mode – provide constant electrical supply and cabin conditioning whilst standing on tarmac;

- superior short-field take-off/landing – greater operational flexibility and access to  regional aerodromes;

- unpaved airfield capability – unmatched airfield access and mobility in remote parts of the country;

- certified for single-pilot operation – unrivalled operational efficiency and payload carrying capability.