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Tech means Royal Flying Doctor Service can track real-time in outback

written by Adam Thorn | July 31, 2020

Royal Flying Doctor Service and Little Wings aircraft. (Airservices)
Royal Flying Doctor Service and Little Wings aircraft. (Airservices)

The Royal Flying Doctor Service can now track its aircraft in real-time across outback Queensland – after 40 new receivers were installed across an area the size of western Europe.

Previously, the organisation’s base would only receive location updates every two minutes meaning the 20 aircraft in its fleet would sometimes fly ‘off the map’, slowing down the time it took them to reach patients.

The new tech was installed by SkyNet Aviation and means the RFDS can now monitor its aircraft with a precision of under 100 metres, even if they are 1000 kilometres from their base in the Simpson Desert.

RFDS chief operating officer Andrew Barron said, “It means there is less waiting time for patients and they are able to get to their destination of care much quicker.

“Our Duty Tasking Officers, who are the ones directly tasking the fleet of RFDS aircraft, are already seeing better efficiencies in the way they can schedule and move patients around the state.”


The RFDS has a fleet of 20 aircraft, such as Beechcraft King Airs, stationed at nine bases including Rockhampton, Bundaberg and Longreach.

SkyNet Aviation chief executive Jon Davis said, “The Royal Flying Doctor Service now has world-class 24/7 capabilities to manage their aircraft. They can see the locations, routes and weather for the whole fleet across Queensland live.”

Last year, Australian Aviation reported that the aeromedical organisation welcomed the Pilatus PC-24 to its fleet, which it described as a world-class intensive care unit in the sky.

“The … PC-24 jet epitomises the continued evolution of RFDS as the pre-eminent and most trusted provider of aeromedical services in Western Australia,” RFDS WA’s general manager aviation Geoff Horsley told Australian Aviation at the time.

Named Victory, the PC-24 has been dubbed the world’s first super-versatile jet by Pilatus. It has been re-purposed with a state-of-the-art aero medical fit-out to serve as an in-flight emergency ward.

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