The Adelaide-based Central Operations of the Royal Flying Doctor Service has ordered a $10 million Pilatus PC-24 twin-jet for rapid medical evacuations and hospital transfers.
The aircraft, due for delivery in 2017-18 and the first in RFDS service in Australia, will halve flying times on the organisation’s main routes, including Alice Springs-Adelaide.
The jet has a top speed of 787 km/h and a range of 3,610km.
The RFDS has also taken an option on a second PC-24 for potential delivery in 2018-19.
The deal was foreshadowed to Australian Aviation by the chief executive of Central Operations John Lynch in February.
It will join the present fleet of turboprop PC-12s operated in South Australia and the Northern Territory by the RFDS.
In announcing the decision to buy the twin-jet, Mr Lynch said the aircraft, apart from reducing the flying time for long-haul patients, would be capable of transferring three patients in stretchers, together with medical staff, from Adelaide to any capital city in Australia without refuelling.
It would be on stand-by to transfer emergency patients from Adelaide to interstate hospitals for life-saving emergency surgery, such as cardiac and organ-transplant operations.
The Pilatus PC-24 also would enable faster response to any major, mass-casualty disaster.
Within South Australia, it would be able to reach any centre within 90 minutes, and remote industrial sites as the Moomba oil and gas fields in the Cooper Basin, within 60 minutes.
It was designed to operate from paved and dirt airstrips, with a single pilot.
The RFDS planned to have the PC-24 on standby 24 hours a day every day, under its State emergency medical retrieval and hospital transfer contract with the South Australian Government – a contract which underwrote the recent decision to build a new $13 million aeromedical base at Adelaide Airport.
The twin-jet will be funded under the present RFDS capital program.
A full-scale fuselage and cabin mock-up of the PC-24 ‘super versatile jet’ (SVJ) was on display at the recently concluded Avalon Airshow.