Plane Launch

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Name the new plane added to the fleet
Name the new plane added to the fleet

Enter the Name the Plane competition

Nelson’s health services will receive a boost with the launch of a $3 million air ambulance plane for the New Zealand Flying Doctor Service, based at Nelson Airport.

To the end of June 2023, the NZ flying Doctor service completed 1276 missions across NZ. Just over 50% of these missions were ex Nelson. This plane, the Beechcraft Super King Air B200 is the newest in NZs aeromedical fleet and offers a significant upgrade.

“This model of plane is ideal for aeromedical inter-hospital transfers and will be instrumental in getting patients in the Nelson / Marlborough area to the specialist or higher acuity care they need” explains base manager Ryan O’Rourke.

CEO of the NZFD Trust, Christine Prince states “we hope Nelsonians and top of the South Island locals will embrace this opportunity to name their plane. It will be permanently based in Nelson, on call to help the community when needed.” The lucky winner will be invited to the launch at Nelson Airport on 15 February. The ‘Name Nelson’s new Flying Doctor Plane’ is being run on the NZ Flying Doctor Service website (link) and people have until Friday 9 February to vote.

“With the service’s highly trained medical, nursing staff from Nelson Hospital and specialist equipment, patients can be transferred seamlessly to Christchurch or Wellington or further afield for advanced medical treatment.

Five specialist pilots are based in Nelson and the seven flight nurses are ICU staff from Nelson Hospital. The New Zealand Flying Doctor Trust contributes $2,500 to every mission – $3 million a year.

The Beechcraft Super King Air B200 can be equipped with two patient stretchers plus seating for up to four medical crew and patient support people, equipment and two pilots. The aircraft is a perfect fit as its performance and versatility allows the New Zealand Flying Doctor Service based in Nelson and Christchurch to operate efficiently around the country, including the remote Chatham Islands. It flies at 480km per hour and has a 1500 nautical mile range.

GCH Aviation, which operates the service, has a five-year plan to progressively upgrade its aircraft fleet making investment today to keep up with demand and introduce new technologies and plans to expand the fleet further.

Dr David Bowie, NZ Flying Doctor Trust Chairman, says this is a life-saving service, and the plane is set up as a flying intensive care unit. When time is of the essence and distance is an issue, the New Zealand Flying Doctor Service is the only option for many patients,”

Mark Sullivan has the service, and its sister ROA Mining Rescue helicopter service, to thank for saving him in Nelson last year, after a light plane crash in remote bush near Murchison left him clinging to life. The New Zealand Flying Doctor brought him back to Christchurch Hospital for the first of many surgeries. Eighteen months later, Mark is back at work as an Anglican Vicar in Christchurch. He now lives with eight pieces of titanium in his face and jaw and new front teeth, but shows only one small scar on his chin to tell the story. <read more about Mark’s story>

“At the time I didn’t appreciate how close I came to not surviving. No other organisation has had such a profound impact in my life and I feel that our part of the world is well served with such a professional and dedicated band of men and women. The air rescue and NZ Flying Doctor teams saved my life and I want to say a massive thanks,” Sullivan says.

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