New Support For The Flying Doctor

The Royal Flying Doctor Service is a key service which dedicates their time to the local and rural community. The Royal Flying Doctor Service Central Operations (serving SA/NT) has announced the launching of a significant partnership with outback icon and among the country’s largest beef producers, S. Kidman & Co. In recognition of this $500,000-plus sponsorship deal, a RFDS ‘flying intensive care unit’ bearing the S. Kidman & Co logo was unveiled last week by the corporation’s Executive Chairman, Gina Rinehart, in the RFDS’ aeromedical foundation at Adelaide Airport.

The medically-equipped aircraft, the Pilatus PC-12 VH-FXW (Foxtrot-X-ray-Zulu), is one of 67 RFDS aircraft located across the nation, many of which serving the outback regions of northern and central Australia in which the S. Kidman & Co channels and communities operate within.

Kidman & Co runs over 160,000 beef cows across 11 pastoral properties and a feedlot covering 80,000 square kilometres in three states and the Northern Territory. It is owned by Australian Outback Beef, a joint venture of Hancock Prospecting and Shangai CRED. Hancock Prospecting Executive Chairman, Mrs. Gina Rinehart, says she is quite happy to be aligning the S. Kidman & Co brand alongside Australia’s pioneer in aeromedical and primary healthcare in remote and rural Australia.

The RFDS has provided a lifeline to the bush communities for almost 90 years. It’s remarkable to think that in South and Central Australia alone the RFDS airlifts 25 patients every day – over 100 across the country every day,” Mrs Rinehart says.

“Our board and our staff are proud to be playing a role in helping to make this happen, and to now have the Kidman brand on a RFDS ‘flying intensive care unit’ that will conduct two missions every day is something we hope will be helpful to many people and help to save lives,” she says.

RFDS Central Operations chairman, Loretta Reynolds, says the effect of S. Kidman & Co.’s direct financial aid will be far reaching, as they can now afford health equipment rentals, and other needs for this to continue such as fall prevention training for the rural and remote elderly using this service.

VH-FXZ or ‘Zulu’ as it’s known to crews, is the latest $7 million ‘flying intensive care unit’ to combine the RFDS Central Operations fleet situated across Adelaide, Port Augusta, Alice Springs and Darwin bases. ‘Zulu’ is the 1500th PC-12 made by Pilatus, and the 20th delivered to RFDS Central Operations who was also the worldwide launch customer of the Pilatus PC-12 in 1995. In only its first ten months of service to the community, ‘Zulu’ has hauled 119 patients from 38 remote and rural locations throughout South Australia — and beyond.

The aircraft came to aeromedical service on 1 October this year and has been tasked with airlift injured and critically-ill patients throughout South Australia, from regional centers like Mt Gambier, Renmark and Port Lincoln, to outback places as varied as Coober Pedy, the Nullarbor and Marree on the Birdsville Track. Its initial interstate flight came on October 10; the move of a newborn baby from Adelaide to Melbourne for life threatening heart operation.

For another decade VH-FXZ will continue to help members of the community, providing services which range from the:

  • Emergency evacuation of the wounded or critically-ill from outback communities;
  • Aeromedical transport of patients interstate for live-saving operation like organ transplant and heart operation on newborn infants
  • Delivery of essential primary health care like GP consultations and immunisation of children during ‘fly-in’ health clinics to remote communities; and
  • Transport of patients from regional and bush hospitals to major hospitals in Adelaide, Alice Springs and Darwin for higher levels of care.