Air Bridge – Pilatus Aircraft Provide Assistance During Australian Fires
People around the world will be aware of the fires that burnt millions of hectares of land and killed almost a billion animals around Australia. It was a difficult Australian summer in all respects. In these conditions, it was great to see so many Pilatus family aircraft assisting where they could. Pilatus Aircraft Ltd
The dense smoke associated with the large-scale bush fires made life very difficult for people in many parts of Australia in early January – and also had a major impact on flying conditions. A thick haze surrounded many parts of South and Eastern Australia for a lengthy period. Poor visibility made it impossible for aircraft to take off or land. When conditions improved, those who were willing were at last able to lend a hand. It was encouraging to see so many owners of Pilatus aircraft join volunteers on the front line.
Private transport flights for aid workers and goods
Simon Hackett, owner of PC-12 NG serial number 1352 did numerous flights down to Kangaroo Island from Adelaide for the ‘South Australian Veterinary Emergency Management’ organisation (SAVEM). Kangaroo Island is a popular tourist destination located half an hour by air from Adelaide, the nearest major city. The island is home to Flinders Chase National Park, where kangaroos, koalas and anteaters live. The national park was almost completely destroyed. The primary purpose of the flights was to transport vets, nurses and sufficient supplies to Kangaroo Island.
Jonathan Merridew assisted “Animals Australia”, one of Australia’s leading animal protection organisations, in his PC-12 serial number 126. Flights consisted of transporting supplies from Lilydale Airport to Mallacoota. Mallacoota, a coastal town in regional Victoria which was cut off from the rest of Australia by blazing fires, featured in the media for weeks on end. 850 kg of chaff and grain were flown over in the PC-12 to feed starving animals.
Aeromedical support across Australia
The Royal Flying Doctor Service also provides round-the-clock support and care across all regions. The RFDS currently operates some 35 PC-12s and 3 PC-24s, which they use to ensure medical care for patients across the Australian continent. The aircraft come with all the medical equipment needed to provide emergency care to patients during the flight.
They also provided additional services to affected areas in the aftermath of the fires. During this difficult period, a significant portion of the wide-ranging health services supplied by the RFDS revolved around providing professional support in the form of mental healthcare and well-being for affected families. These services complement the traditional aeromedical missions flown in PC-12s and PC-24s.
The workhorse for difficult situations
The PC-12 is an extremely versatile aircraft which suits many mission profiles. These aircraft have a long tradition of involvement in emergency response assignments throughout the world. The large cargo door ensures easy loading of bulky goods. Naturally, Pilatus is proud that even a PC-12 in passenger configuration is capable of providing this valuable extra assistance!