B360 arrival rfds Brisbane

Graphic: B360 arrival rfds Brisbane

RFDS to fly faster and further with Australia’s first B360 aircraft

Date published

30 Dec 2021

Santa’s sleigh wasn’t the only mission-critical craft landing in Brisbane over the festive season. A new $16 million aircraft — the first of its kind to touchdown on Australian soil — has been acquired by the Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) (RFDS).

The Beechcraft King Air 360CHW turboprop aircraft is the first of six acquired by the RFDS, totalling a near $100 million investment in the future of Queenslanders’ health.

Revolutionising aeromedical care in Australia, the new fleet of B360s will allow the RFDS to fly further and faster than ever before. It will also reduce pilot workload, enhance care opportunities and provide greater patient comfort.

Touching down in December 2021, our new aircraft is the fastest twin turboprop aeromedical aircraft in the country, with the next three scheduled to arrive in Australia in 2022, and two in 2023.

In 2020/21, the existing fleet of 20 King Air aircraft travelled 8.3 million kilometres and amassed more than 24,000 flight hours.

RFDS (Queensland Section) Chief Executive Officer Meredith Staib said the acquisition of the new aircraft would ensure the Flying Doctor remained future fit as it neared 100 years of operation.

“The Beechcraft King Air 360 aircraft forms a key part of our 10-year aircraft replacement strategy, which will ensure continuity of first-class aeromedical care well into the future,” she said.

“In addition to the aeromedical retrieval of the critically-ill or injured, the RFDS also delivers a vital inter-hospital transfer service in partnership with the Queensland Government and a broad range of essential primary health care services to regional, rural and remote communities.

“The delivery of these vital services will be enhanced by the acquisition of our new aircraft.”

RFDS (Queensland Section) Executive General Manager Aviation and Logistics Glyn Butchard said the Beechcraft King Air 360 aircraft featured technology advances that would improve performance and efficiency, as well as enhancements to patient comfort.

“Synthetic vision and autothrottle provide an additional level of safety, reduces pilot workload and increases situational awareness, while the upgraded engines, five bladed composite propellers and anti-skid braking system will provide better performance allowing operations into shorter runways,” he said.

“Another update in the cockpit is the new digital pressurisation controller, which automatically schedules cabin pressurisation during both climb and descent, reducing pilot workload and increasing overall patient comfort.”

The Beechcraft King Air 360 is designed and manufactured by Textron Aviation.

The B360 will now commence a 29-week, state-of-the-art back-of-cabin fit out ensuring it’s equipped to provide Queenslanders across regional, rural and remote areas with the finest healthcare available.

This aircraft wouldn’t be possible without the support of our donors, fundraises, partners and those special people who have decided to leave a gift in their will.