Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) Central Operations will have a place to call its own at Darwin Airport with the construction of a new $4 million aeromedical facility.
The new Darwin base features an engineering and maintenance hangar able to fit four aircraft, as well as enough parking space for up to six aircraft on the tarmac apron. Medical facilities included “time critical design factors and private patient management bays”, as well as separate waiting areas for NT Health doctors and medical specialists.
Previously, RFDS Central Operations had been using “a combination of hangar sub-lease and shared access arrangements with general aviation providers” when flying patients to Royal Darwin Hospital, Darwin Airport and RFDS Central Operations said in a joint statement on Wednesday.
RFDS Central Operations chief executive John Lynch said the new Darwin aeromedical facility would allow the organisation to “deliver enhanced care and comfort for our patients heading into Darwin”.
“The modern facility will create a streamlined patient transfer process, as well as provide a modern and safe workplace for Darwin staff, guests and our NT Health service-delivery partners,” Lynch said in a statement.
“It will also offer the NT Government additional aeromedical capacity in the ‘Top End’ – and a cost-effective option for the repatriation of low acuity patients from Royal Darwin Hospital to hospitals such as Katherine and Gove.”
RFDS Central Operations has signed a 15-year lease with Darwin Airport to establish the new base, which will be built on a greenfields site next to the NT Health hangar that services the Territory’s commercial aeromedical contract.
Darwin-based design and construction company Ahrens was awarded the contract to construct the new facility, with the work expected to begin later in February. Darwin will be the 25the aeromedical base for the RFDS.
RFDS Central Operations said during it transported 2,600 patients in the Northern Territory.
Currently, CareFlight has the NT Government aeromedical evacuation contract that it won in 2013. The contact was due to expire in 2022.