The newest addition to the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) aeromedical fleet has arrived in Australia just in time for Christmas, thanks to ongoing generous donations from the community.
The $7 million Pilatus PC-12 aircraft – called Foxtrot-November-Hotel (VH-FNH) – has been purchased with the support of corporate partners, local communities and individuals who have given to the RFDS through donations, bequests, sponsorships and fundraising events.
The Swiss-built aircraft will go into operation as a flying intensive care unit, undertaking more than two flights a day across South Australia and the Northern Territory for the next 12 years.
In its lifetime, it will fly almost four million kilometres to provide the finest care to more than 9000 Australians in need.
RFDS Central Operations' Executive General Manager, Marketing & Stakeholder Relations, Charlie Paterson, said the aircraft was “a Christmas gift to the community from the community”.
“The RFDS relies on fundraising and donations to replace our aircraft so we can’t thank the community enough for delivering the ultimate gift to the Flying Doctor,” Mr Paterson said.
“This aircraft will airlift two patients in need every day for more than decade, be it the outback retrieval of a critically-ill patient or the urgent aeromedical transfer of someone from a regional or remote centre to a city hospital for life-saving or higher levels of care,” he said.
“At a cost of $7 million ready to save lives, I can’t think of a better return on investment.”
RFDS Adelaide Base Senior Pilot Philip Remilton (pictured with Santa) collected the PC-12 from the Pilatus factory in Stans, Switzerland last week.
His eight-day, 16,000km journey home included stops in Heraklion (Crete, Greece), Hurghada (Egypt), Dubai (United Arab Emirates), Hyderabad (India), Langkawi (Thailand), Bali (Indonesia) and Broome (WA) en route to its final destination, Adelaide (SA).
It will take around five weeks to medically-equip and convert the aircraft into a RFDS flying intensive care unit – a task that will be undertaken by the engineering team at the RFDS Adelaide Base. It will be in the skies saving lives by late February.
VH-FNH will replace an older aircraft in the fleet nearing 15,000 hours of aeromedical service to the community.