RFDS and rio tinto

Graphic: RFDS and rio tinto

'Ningaloo' takes to the skies

Date published

05 Aug 2022

Three children have scored a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to name the newest Rio Tinto LifeFlight PC-24 jet used by the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Western Australia.

Graphic: Rio kids

The jet aircraft has a call-sign VH-NWO so the name needed to start with an ‘N’ and participants were encouraged to put forward suggestions that truly reflected the spirit and uniqueness of Western Australia

Iona, Millie and James’ (pictured right) choice ‘Ningaloo’ was chosen out of nearly hundreds of entries in a name-the-plane competition run by Rio Tinto and the RFDS.  

The prize for choosing the winning name also included the opportunity to meet with an RFDS pilot, nurse and doctor, as well as enjoying a personal tour of the aircraft and taking a short flight on board the aeromedical service jet from Jandakot Airport.  

‘Ningaloo’ arrived in Western Australia from Switzerland in March this year, made possible by a $15 million investment by the RFDS’ Principal Partner Rio Tinto.

Graphic: three jets

‘Ningaloo’ joins two other Rio Tinto LifeFlight PC-24 jets ‘Victory’ and ‘Kimberley’ as the fastest aircraft in the RFDS Western Operations fleet, with the ability to carry three stretchered patients and two medical teams at a time.

All three Rio Tinto LifeFlight PC-24 jets including ‘Ningaloo’ were deployed to Horizontal Falls after a boating accident in May. The jets proved pivotal when the RFDS was tasked to coordinate an extraordinary rescue mission involving 18 people who were seriously injured and required retrievals to both Broome and Perth.

‘Ningaloo’ has travelled nearly 250,000kms to help 229 patients throughout Western Australia since entering service in March.

Graphic: Rebecca with kids

RFDS WA CEO Rebecca Tomkinson said ‘Ningaloo’, an iconic remote holiday destination in Western Australia, was a fitting name for the RFDS’ third Rio Tinto LifeFlight PC-24 jet.  

“I’m pleased to connect Iona, Millie and James with our service – they are our future and I hope their visit to our base inspires them to be long time supporters of the Flying Doctor,” Ms Tomkinson said.

“We loved their choice ‘Ningaloo’ for our newest jet as it captures the life and diversity of Western Australia and resonates with our far-reaching impact across the State.

“Thanks to our partnership with Rio Tinto, our frontline crews can travel further, faster and help more people than ever before, bringing the finest care to the furthest corners of Western Australia.”

Graphic: RFDS x rio kids

Rio Tinto Chief Executive Iron Ore Simon Trott said: “Our people who live and work in the regions know first-hand just how vital the Royal Flying Doctor Service is to everyday life so it’s really special that three of our employees’ children got to name the plane.

“People who live in regional and remote areas across Western Australia rely on these innovative aircraft which are equipped to serve as Intensive Care Units in the sky and staffed with highly trained pilots, emergency doctors and flight nurses.

“Rio Tinto’s partnership with the RFDS underpins the health equity of regional Western Australia and ensures that everyone who lives, works or travels across the vast 2.5 million square kilometres of our State has access to the world’s most advanced and innovative aeromedical capability.”