15 May 2015 © David Eyre
The donation by Rio Tinto will go to the RFDS Aero Medical Fund, to fund their new PC-24 jets, a flight simulator and a new RFDS base in Broome.
Compared to the RFDS’s current Pilatus PC-12 turboprops, the new PC-24s travel twice as far, in half the time.
Since 2009, Rio Tinto has funded VH-RIO, the Hawker 800XP ‘Life Flight’ jet, which had evacuated almost 1500 patients, mostly from the Kimberley and Pilbara regions. The Hawker 800XP can carry two critically ill patients at a time, each with their own doctor and nurse team. The new PC24 jets will be able to take three stretcher patients at the same time. Unlike most other jets, the PC-24s can also operate from dirt airstrips and be flown by a single pilot.
Rio Tinto has donated a total of $22.5 million to the RFDS over the last decade.
The PC-24 made a successful first flight earlier this week on 11 May 2015, at Buochs Airport, Stans, Switzerland. The aircraft is due to be certified for service in 2017, and the first two years of production is already sold out. Below is video footage by Pilatus of the first flight :