Rio Tinto invests in a third aeromedical jet for RFDS Western Operations fleet

Date published

19 Feb 2020
RFDS Western Operations CEO Rebecca Tomkinson, Minister for Health Roger Cook and Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Chris Salisbury.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) of Western Australia today announced a third Rio Tinto LifeFlight PC-24 jet is set to join its aircraft fleet, following a $15 million donation for its outright purchase by its principal partner Rio Tinto.  

Due to arrive in 2022, the third Rio Tinto LifeFlight PC-24 jet will further boost patient response times and continue to revolutionise the iconic aeromedical charity which has become a world leader in its field through its jet capability.

The announcement comes as the RFDS is due to celebrate a significant milestone achievement in its 90-year history in March - the first birthday and successful integration of its first two Rio Tinto LifeFlight PC-24 jets to its fleet. 

Both Rio Tinto LifeFlight jets have been in service for a year, helping more than 1,000 patients across more than 1.2 million kilometres. Rio Tinto provided $10 million towards their purchase.

Hon. Roger Cook MLA, Minister for Health said: “I’d like to thank Rio Tinto for this significant investment which will improve the delivery of healthcare for people in regional and remote Western Australia. The RFDS provide an absolutely essential service and by funding a third PC-24 jet Rio Tinto are helping them further transform their service, expand operations and ultimately save lives.” 

Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Chris Salisbury said: “We are proud to support the RFDS in its wonderful efforts to ensure people who live, work or travel across our vast state have access to the world’s most advanced and innovative aeromedical capability.

Our long-term partnership with the RFDS has focused on helping the organisation enhance and expand its fleet for the great benefit of remote and regional Western Australians.”

Royal Flying Doctor Service Western Operations Chief Executive Officer Rebecca Tomkinson said: “Rio Tinto’s purchase of a third jet will strengthen and expand our aircraft assets for the future, so we can continue our work as a vital link in the health network of our state.  

“The successful integration of two Rio Tinto LifeFlight PC-24 jets into our fleet over the past year has already put time on our side to save lives, and we anticipate the arrival of a third jet will continue to revolutionise the way our 24-hour aeromedical emergency service is coordinated across the state.

“We are incredibly proud of our longstanding partnership with Rio Tinto and the ongoing collaboration to support health equity in the regions.”

Editor's notes  
- The RFDS’ acquisition and aero medical fit out of its first two Rio Tinto LifeFlight PC-24 jets in 2019 was an investment of $26 million, partly funded by a $10 million contribution from Rio Tinto, $4.5 million from the Commonwealth Government and $6.5 million from a Lotterywest grant.

- In 2019, the Flying Doctor of Western Australia was - announced as the winner of the Dr Mal Bryce Tech Company of the Year at the INCITE awards and inducted into the WA Innovation Hall of Fame, based on the fit-out and performance of the Rio Tinto LifeFlight PC-24 jets. 

- The RFDS' customisation of the PC-24 jet with state-of-the-art aero medical fit-out is a world-first and has the capacity to carry up to three stretchered patients and two medical teams at a time. 

- The PC-24 jet travels at speeds of more than 700km/hr and as high as 45,000 feet and can almost halve long distance travel times for critical patient transfers when compared to the service's workhorse - the PC-12 turboprop aircraft. 

General RFDS Facts and Stats 
- The Flying Doctor of Western Australia has five operating facilities spread across the state in Jandakot, Kalgoorlie, Meekatharra, Port Hedland and Broome; 

-The RFDS currently has an aircraft fleet of 16 PC-12 turboprop aircraft and two Rio Tinto LifeFlight PC-24 jet aircraft which together provide a 'mantle of safety' across more than 2.5 million sq kilometres of the state;

- The Flying Doctor in Western Australia provides 24-hour aero medical emergency retrievals, rural and remote GP clinics, dental services, telehealth and medical chests; 

- During FY18-19, the Flying Doctor in Western Australia aero medically retrieved 8,682 patients across the state. That's approx. 24 patients flown to safety each day; 

- Each RFDS aircraft is equipped with state-of-the-art aero medical equipment to support in-flight medical emergencies and serve as Intensive Care Units in the sky; and

- All RFDS flight nurses are qualified midwives.