CareFlight was honoured to host Federal Health Minister, the Honourable Mark Butler MP, at its Darwin base  on 19 September, 2023, to announce a significant expansion of its lifesaving capabilities. This expansion, made possible by a $19.95 million Federal Government investment, marks a pivotal moment in enhancing CareFlight’s ability to provide lifesaving assistance to even more Australians in need.

The funding has enabled CareFlight to acquire a second AgustaWestland AW139 Rescue Helicopter and a second Gulfstream G150 Aeromedical Jet. These additions substantially strengthen CareFlight’s emergency response and patient transfer service capabilities. The AW139 helicopter is already in active service, engaging in missions to save lives, while the Gulfstream G150 is currently undergoing necessary modifications and is expected to arrive in the Northern Territory early next year.

Mick Frewen, CEO of CareFlight, expressed his gratitude to Health Minister Mark Butler and the Federal Government for their unwavering support, emphasising this expansion’s profound impact on CareFlight’s operational capacity.

“This second AW139 means we now have the capability to provide a true 24/7 lifesaving service, ensuring there is always a helicopter crewed and online, ready to provide urgent assistance,” Mr. Frewen stated.

Dr. Andrew Refshauge, Chairperson of CareFlight, echoed these sentiments and extended thanks to the NT Government for their continued support.

“We now have a second AW139 helicopter and soon an additional Jet here in the Territory, and we thank the NT Government for their ongoing trust in CareFlight to continue to deliver aeromedical retrieval across the Top End,” Dr Refshauge stated.

Highlighting the significance of the new Gulfstream G150 Aeromedical Jet, Dr. Refshauge emphasised its role in transporting critically ill patients from Darwin to the necessary medical care facilities.

“The G150 jet will enable us to support all Australians when confronted by a crisis, right across the country, and it will also enable us to deliver support to our regional neighbours in times of natural disaster,” he added.

Moreover, the collaboration with the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre enhances CareFlight’s ability to deploy Australian Medical Assistance Teams and other Government Agencies rapidly and over greater distances.

This expansion of CareFlight’s fleet not only bolsters its ability to respond to emergencies but also improves its maintenance capabilities. With two identical AW139 helicopters, spare parts can be easily swapped between the two, ensuring maximum availability and reducing downtime.

Federal Health Minister Mark Butler praised the expanded fleet as a solution to the “tyranny of distance” faced by Territorians in need of lifesaving care. He also highlighted the broader regional impact, stating:

“The helicopter and the jet will also make a difference not just to Territorians in the Top End, but to the AUSMAT team’s ability to project capability into our region.”

With these new additions to their fleet, CareFlight is now better equipped than ever to serve the needs of the Territory and beyond, ensuring that critical medical care is just a flight away, no matter the circumstances.