A $3 million funding commitment has boosted plans for a new, world-class aviation training facility in Bundaberg.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service welcomed the QCoal Foundation funding while outlining features of the new facility, which is set to be constructed next to the existing RFDS Bundaberg Base.
The facility will house the only full-motion Beechcraft King Air B350/360 flight training simulator outside of the United States.
RFDS (Queensland Section) Chief Executive Officer Meredith Staib said the announcement was an extension of its long-standing partnership with QCoal Foundation and further evidence of their commitment to supporting health outcomes for regional Queensland.
“The B360 aircraft will be introduced into our fleet this year, and the new facility will support the ongoing training of our highly-skilled pilots and pilots from right across Australia and Asia,” she said.
“With $15 million in support from the Australian Government already committed to the facility, under the Hinkler Regional Deal and administered through the Community Development Grants Program, this additional funding will help secure the future of this
essential project for Queensland and Australia.”
Chair Christopher Wallin said the QCoal Foundation was delighted to be forming a new social venture partnership with the RFDS that was also another example of Government, philanthropy and not-for-profit collaboration.
“Like our work with the Dental Service, we are extremely proud to again be partnering with the RFDS to deliver a ‘first of its kind’ initiative which will deliver enormous benefit to regional Queensland,” he said.
“This is about much more than frontline health service delivery, this initiative will support economic diversification in the Bundaberg region and will provide a sustainable commercial opportunity for the RFDS.”
RFDS pilot training a boost for community
Mayor Jack Dempsey said the establishment of the flight training facility in Bundaberg was a classic case of “build it and they will come”.
“Council has been pleased to be involved in supporting this project which will provide many benefits to the region” Mayor Dempsey said.
“Through strategic planning, Council invested several million dollars into the development of the Bundaberg Regional Aviation and Aerospace Precinct and improving the airport taxiways.
“This paved the way for the aeromedical facility to be established here in the Bundaberg Region and has seen it become a cornerstone project for RFDS and Lifeflight.
“Last year, Bundaberg Regional Council donated the land for this pilot-training facility to go ahead, valued at $405,000.
“We are so very thankful to RFDS for their commitment not just to rural and regional health services but to the Bundaberg Region.
“It was pleasing also to welcome Federal Government Minister for Regional Health Dr David Gilliespie to the region to see firsthand the fantastic outcomes being achieved through the aeromedical base.”
Mayor Dempsey said when fully operational, 75 pilots would spend at least two weeks each year at the simulator.
“This equates to almost 1100 nights of accommodation in the region each year,” he said.
“This is on top of the $6.5 million that our Bundaberg aeromedical base and patient transfer facility currently injects into the regional economy each year and the 50 FTE jobs that it supports.”
Minister for Regional Health Dr David Gillespie said the RFDS was an incredible, iconic organisation that goes above and beyond for Australians each and every day.
“That is why the Australian Government, on behalf of Australian taxpayers, is proud to be a longstanding funder of the RFDS to deliver emergency primary aeromedical evacuations, GP and community nurse primary health clinics, and dental and mental health outreach services,” he said.
“This investment will ensure that the RFDS teams are ready to provide healthcare when and where it is needed.”
Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt welcomed the announcement and congratulated QCoal Foundation on its continued support of the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
“The Royal Flying Doctor Service plays a vital role in the provision of health services in regional Queensland and right around Australia,” he said.
“Through the Hinkler Regional Deal I was able to secure $15 million for the aviation training facility and it will see RFDS pilots from all over the country come to Bundaberg for their training.”