Community News BHP

Flying doctors expand fleet in the Pilbara

The Royal Flying Doctor Service Western Operations (RFDS) have proudly unveiled the newest member of its fleet in Port Hedland.

The purchase of a new Pilatus PC12 aeromedical aircraft, supported through BHP’s Vital Resources Fund, will transport an estimated 500 patients each year and will be fundamental to the RFDS meeting the expected increase in demand for its service in Western Australia.

To celebrate the new aircraft, RFDS took it on a ‘Thank You’ tour around the Pilbara.

BHP’s Western Australian Non-Process Infrastructure General Manager Kate Holling was lucky enough to score a seat on the flight and said the new aircraft is like the 4WD of the RFDS fleet.

“It can land on short gravel airstrips and even roads,” Kate said.

“It will be a very valuable resource for the RFDS who provide an essential service for our employees and host communities.”

RFDS Western Operations CEO Rebecca Tomkinson said the new aircraft will help the service stay ‘response ready’ for all Western Australians.

“As we all continue to prepare for the evolving challenges of COVID-19, having additional capability to meet the increasingly diverse needs in regional Western Australia is of upmost importance,” Rebecca said.

“The RFDS remains Western Australia’s only aeromedical provider for suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients and this new aircraft is a great all-rounder in terms of capacity, amenity, speed, range and performance. To date, we have transported 134 suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients.”

More than $5 million was raised to purchase the new aircraft, thanks to the assistance of The Chamber of Minerals and Energy of WA and 22 Western Australian resource and primary industry companies – as well as a $2 million contribution by BHP through its Vital Resources Fund.