Queensland-based aeromedical charity, RACQ LifeFlight Rescue has taken delivery of two more Challenger 604 aircraft, expanding and upgrading the company's fleet of dedicated, medically configured jets. It's a coup for regional Queensland, with the expansion giving people who live in remote communities even faster access to world-class medical treatment.
“The Challenger 604 aircraft is the longest-range aeromedical jet available for immediate emergency deployment in Australia,” executive manager of the LifeFlight coordination centre Peter Elliott says. “The aircraft can go to the majority of airstrips and townships in Queensland and bring those people to the major centres such as Townsville, Cairns, Mackay and Brisbane.”
The RACQ LifeFlight Rescue air ambulance jet fleet now consists of four Challenger 604s, two of which will be based in Brisbane and two in Townsville.
“One of the new aircraft is replacing our Learjet 45, which has been based in Townsville for the past 10 years, while the other is an addition to our fleet,” Elliott adds.
The latest additions arrived in Australia from America in February, and have since undergone an extensive medical fit-out.
“Each aircraft takes about two weeks to fit-out, coming in as a corporately configured jet, which is then transformed into an air ambulance,” explains Elliott.
Two of RACQ LifeFlight Rescue's Challenger 604s and a Learjet 45 airlifted three of the injured miners from the Moranbah gas explosion earlier this month.
More than 70 per cent of the missions completed by the RACQ LifeFlight Rescue air ambulance jets are for Queensland Health patients and come at no cost to the patient. The jet fleet also services international clients, through travel insurance.
“Each aircraft can be airborne in as little as 90 minutes,” enthuses Elliott. “Each aircraft has a captain and first officer as well as a critical care doctor and flight nurse. We have a large area where we operate, and that's all the way through the South Pacific, Asia and beyond, and the Challenger 604 is the perfect aircraft for that.
RACQ spokesperson Renee Smith said as a long-time supporter of the RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopters, the club was now proud to support its members and Queenslanders with its sponsorship of these lifesaving jets.
“At RACQ, we're really glad to be able to help people, not only on the road side, but also in the air right across the state, and now nationally through these four RACQ LifeFlight Air Ambulances,” she comments. “The jets and helicopters are critical in getting regional people the support they need, and never have they been more important than at this time. It's great to be able to bring Queenslanders peace of mind and reassurance that our two organisations continue to work together, to support them.
“We want to thank the crew of doctors and the wider team for the work they do each and every day saving lives, and transporting vulnerable people to medical treatment.”