Doctors ready for take off

Richard O'Connell (Head of Community and Indigenous Affairs  with BHP Billiton) and Grahame Marshall (Chie Executive Officer Royal Flying Doctor Service).
Richard O'Connell (Head of Community and Indigenous Affairs with BHP Billiton) and Grahame Marshall (Chie Executive Officer Royal Flying Doctor Service).

The $22 million additions are fitted with the latest in medical and aviation technology and are capable of transporting two stretcher patients with a doctor, a flight nurse and patient escort at one time.

The planes, manufactured in Switzerland, have a maximum range of 1560 nautical miles and a maximum cruise speed of 280 knots (520km/h).

Two of the planes were officially unveiled at the RFDS headquarters in Jandakot last Thursday. Three will be based at the service’s Port Hedland hangar, with the fourth staying in Jandakot.

RFDS chief executive officer Grahame Marshall said the new additions were pivotal to the service’s Western Australian operations, which transports 9000 patients more than 7.8 million kilometres each year.

‘These aircraft are vital for us to be able to continue to meet the growth in patient demand for our services across the vast distances of Western Australia,’ he said.

Long-term partners BHP Billiton contributed $4.5 million for the new planes as part of the company’s community development program.