The five new aircraft lined up.

Talk about rising to the challenge.

It was a spectacular scene at Mascot air base on 30 December, 2021, with not one, not two, but all five brand new Beechcraft King Air 350C planes on display for media and dignitaries ahead of their official operational launch two days later.

It was no small feat to ensure the five new aircraft were available for the launch at the same time – but certainly one that was worthwhile given what the new planes represent for NSW Ambulance.

Replacing two older version King Air 350s and three smaller B200s, these five new aircraft are set to be of huge benefit to NSW Ambulance flight nurses, pilots and, of course, the patients.

The Fixed Wing Operations clinicians who will benefit from the planes, transport more than 6,000 patients every year, often from some of the most remote parts of regional and rural NSW.

“To get five new aircraft lined up all together is something I don’t think we’ve had the opportunity to do before,” Paula Sinclair, Director of Fixed Wing & Aeromedical Control Centre, said.

“Everyone worked really well to achieve this.”

Dr Gary Tall, Director of Aeromedical Clinical Operations, speaking at an event to launch five new air ambulance aircraft.

Compared to the older versions, Paula said these new aircraft are faster, quieter, come with state-of-the-art avionics (the aircraft’s electronic systems), and have an improved medical fit-out to treat patients in the back of the aircraft.

Likened to a ‘hospital in the sky’, these new fixed wing planes – capable of carrying two stretcher patients and three sitting patients at any given time - are also fitted with an updated loading arm, which ensures no manual lifting is required to get the patient in and out of the aircraft.

The media event also marked the beginning of a new 10-year contract with Pel-Air, who will operate and maintain the aircraft.

Following the event, a separate ceremony was held to pay tribute to the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS), who operated the previous fleet of planes.

“We have worked with the RFDS for the past 19 years and will continue to work with them in Dubbo and Broken Hill (each of those bases has a fixed wing aircraft supplied by the RFDS),” Paula said.

“They’ve been great to work with and have been very committed to providing the best in community care to our patients during those 19 years.

NSW Ambulance’s Executive Director of Aeromedical Operations, Dr Sarah Coombes presents Justin Marr, General Manager of Aviation RFDS SE Section with a plaque of appreciation.

“With Pel-Air, we look forward to working with them also and building that relationship, and continuing to provide high-level clinical care for all our patients throughout NSW.”

The main media event featured speeches from Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole, Minister for Regional Health Bronnie Taylor and NSW Ambulance Chief Executive Dr Dominic Morgan.

Paula thanked all stakeholders who were involved in helping to ensure a smooth transition from the older-model planes to the new ones.

“It was a massive team effort from everyone involved,” she said.