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AV’s fixed-wing fleet soars to new heights

February 21, 2022 | in News

The latest addition to Victoria’s Air Ambulance fleet – the state-of-the-art Beechcraft planes.

Ambulance Victoria’s (AV) fixed-wing aircraft are undergoing a major upgrade to become the most innovative fleet in the country.

Two Beechcraft 260s and two Beechcraft 360s along with pilots and maintenance crews will be provided by Rex (Regional Express) subsidiary Pel-Air Aviation Pty Ltd, with the first patients to be transported in 2024.

The state-of-the-art aircraft will feature the latest technology and provide additional comfort, safety and care for patients and flight paramedics.

Each plane will be fitted with the high-tech Stryker stretcher loading system, meaning a faster and smoother ride for patients and less risk of injury for paramedics and flight crews.

In 2021, Ambulance Victoria’s air ambulance helicopters were fitted with this innovative loading system, which has already reduced patient transfer time by up to 20 minutes.

The four new planes — two Beechcraft 260s and two Beechcraft 360s — will provide faster, smoother rides for patients.

Ambulance Victoria CEO Professor Tony Walker said AV was proud to be leading the way when it comes to using innovative technology to improve patients’ experience. 

“Our air ambulances provide a vital link between rural communities and metropolitan health services and we are committed to providing the best care for our patients, no matter where they live,” Professor Walker said.

“With this state-of-the-art technology, our patients will benefit from a reduction in transfer time between road ambulances and the aircraft, which in turn helps get our crews back on the road faster.”

Ambulance Victoria will also work with Pel-Air to develop an Australian-first pilot fatigue monitoring system in the cockpit, reinforcing AV’s continuous focus on safety development.

Two of the aircraft will operate around the clock, 365 days a year, and one aircraft will be used during peak times from Monday to Friday.

The fleet will transport patients throughout Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and into southern New South Wales.

In 2020/21, AV’s fixed wing fleet transported 5,065 patients – with most of those trips from regional Victoria to Melbourne.