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WA Flying Doctor fleet boosted by third PC-24
The RFDS's latest PC-24 will help it respond to COVID cases anywhere in Western Australia. The jet's long range capability reduces the need for multiple stops and the risk of further COVID spread during transportation.
Rio Tinto CEO Simon Trott with RFDS Western operations CEO Rebecca Tomkinson.

The aeromedical fleet of Australia's Royal Flying Doctor Service has been boosted by the arrival a new state-of-the art jet, made possible by a $15 million investment from global mining group Rio Tinto as part of a six year partnership extension.

The latest aircraft, the third Rio Tinto LifeFlight Pilatus PC-24, arrived in Perth from the manufacturer's base in Switzerland, touching down late on Friday, 4 March.

The first Rio Tinto LifeFlight jet began operating in December 2018 and the second in February 2019.

The jets have travelled 5,139,520 km since they were introduced to the RFDS in Western Australia and 2,156,463km in the calendar year 2021, traversing the Australian state but also answering emergencies in the Indian Ocean Territories.

The new PC-24 will provide added capacity across all of RFDS' services but will also enhance its ability to respond to COVID cases anywhere in Western Australia. The jet's long range capability reduces the need for multiple stops and the risk of further COVID spread during transportation. The RFDS has boosted its workforce, aircraft fleet, equipment and technology to prepare for surges in demand because of widespread transmission of the virus.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Simon Trott says the company is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of people living in communities throughout Western Australia: “Our relationship with the RFDS began 18 years ago with employee fundraising, and we're proud to have been able to partner with the organisation as it delivers first-class medical care for people on the ground and in the air. This partnership ensures that everyone who lives, works or travels across the vast 2.5 million square kilometres of our state has access to the world's most advanced and innovative aero medical fleet.”

Since forming an alliance with the RFDS in 2004, Rio Tinto has contributed $37.5 million to the organisation.

RFDS Western Operations CEO Rebecca Tomkinson says the third Rio Tinto LifeFlight PC-24 jet will boost patient response times and strengthen the organisation's capital sustainability into the future: “The arrival of this new jet through our partnership with Rio Tinto ensures that we are ready for today's challenges and those of tomorrow. The RFDS in WA is well-prepared to respond to COVID in the WA community. We have safely transferred 156 patients in regional WA with suspected or confirmed COVID, with zero transmission between patients and crew.”

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