The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) has announced it will acquire four new Beechcraft King Air 360CHW turboprop aircraft.
The aeromedical organisation said it would take delivery of the first two in late 2021 with the aim of commissioning them early next year, while the remaining aircraft would arrive later in 2022. There is also the potential for an additional two to be added if required.
Currently, the RFDS has a fleet of 16 King Air B200 Series and four King Air B350CHWs.
Textron Aviation designs and manages the King Air 360s and its head of flying operations, Shane Lawrey, said the aircraft features significant technological upgrades.
“The autothrottle automatically manages engine power from the take-off roll, through the climb, cruise, descent, go-around and landing phases of flight,” said Lawrey.
“This enhancement reduces pilot workload and supports them to prevent over-speed or under-speed, over-temp and over-torque conditions.
“Another update in the cockpit is the new digital pressurisation controller, which automatically schedules cabin pressurisation during both climb and descent, reducing pilot workload and increasing overall patient comfort.”
RFDS (Queensland Section) chief executive Meredith Staib said last year the organisation entered into a new 10-year inter-hospital transfer partnership with the Queensland government.
“The Beechcraft King Air 360 aircraft will form a key part of our 10-year aircraft replacement strategy, which will ultimately ensure we can continue to deliver world-class aeromedical retrievals and healthcare to regional, rural and remote Queenslanders,” she said.
“Our highly trained and skilled aviation staff are looking forward to experiencing the technology advances offered with the B360, including improved performance and efficiency, ultimately improving runway access. I am sure our medical crews and patients will also enjoy the enhanced flying experience.”
In January, Australian Aviation reported how RACQ LifeFlight’s Townsville team provided lifesaving care to 341 people in 2020 – a near 50 per cent increase from 2019.
“Townsville has become a lot busier, it means that we do a lot of the long distance, high acuity jobs,” said rescue flight nurse Michelle Black.
The large increase in activity corresponds with the organisation significantly upgrading its aircraft.