The Royal Flying Doctor Service is progressing its plans to build a new “Centre of Excellence” at Adelaide Airport to upgrade and consolidate its aeromedical services and administration.
The organisation is still discussing a site with Adelaide Airport Ltd but hopes to complete negotiations by the end of October.
The major project is part of a proposed $90 million capital expenditure program over the next 10 years, now approved by the RFDS Central Operations board.
It includes the replacement of four older Pilatus PC-12 aircraft over the next four years in the fleet of 11 aircraft which serve South Australia and central Australia from bases in Adelaide, Port Augusta and Alice Springs.
The chief executive of Central Operations, John Lynch, said the plans for the new aeromedical base at Adelaide Airport had been helped by the RFDS winning a nine-year service agreement with the South Australian Government to provide transfer services between country and major city hospitals for emergency and specialist treatment.
The long-term agreement – replacing one renewed annually since 1991 – provided the confidence to advance the capital investment program, he said.
The contract would be managed by the SA Ambulance Service, in partnership with the RFDS, using aircraft and crews based in Adelaide and Port Augusta.
Lynch said the SA operation averaged 15 medical flights a day – many of them being hospital transfers from rural and regional areas to Adelaide.