Press Release -

LifeFlight Air Ambulance service marks 10 years in Townsville

LifeFlight Air Ambulance opened the hangar doors today, to give a rare, behind the scenes look at its Townsville operation.

2019 is the 10 year anniversary, of the vital Air Ambulance service being based at Townsville Airport.

Today, that milestone was marked with a gathering of past and present LifeFlight Air Ambulance staff.

The northern-based jets flew 181 missions last financial year, airlifting neo-natal, pediatric and critical care patients.

The jet fleet services regional Queensland, transferring patients - many of whom are critically ill or injured - to major centres, where they can access attention and expertise which may not be available in smaller communities.

"The LifeFlight Air Ambulances provide a vital link in Queensland's health service network, making it possible to quickly and efficiently move patients across vast distances, to get them to higher levels of health care, when they need it most. Often, their medical situation is time-critical. The Learjets can fly at over 820 kilometres an hour," said LifeFlight Air Ambulance Chief Pilot John Cornett.

"Our aeromedical crews are on 24/7 standby and can be airborne within 90 minutes of the first activation call from our state-wide operations centre."

More than 2000 patients have been airlifted, since the very first North Queensland mission, took off in 2009.

"We're proud that our jets have been able to make such a positive impact in the lives of so many Queenslanders over the past ten years.  Our operation really is an essential life line for North Queensland and beyond," said LifeFlight Lear 45 Captain Anthony McKenna.

LifeFlight Senior Engineer Charles Curley has been at the Townsville base from the beginning.

"The Townsville jets have completed over 6,800 flying hours since launch.  We've burned through over four million litres of jet fuel, which is enough to fill around 140 home swimming pools. We've also replaced more than 250 aircraft tyres," he said.

There are now two Learjet 45's based permanently in Townsville, with a third Challenger 604 jet, which can be called in from South East Queensland, if required.

The twin-engine business jets, which have been converted into Air Ambulance aircraft, are the flying equivalent of an intensive care unit. 

"Queenslanders are so fortunate to have this kind of service available to them.  90 per cent of the airlifts we perform are on behalf of Queensland Health. These kinds of aeromedical missions are expensive, but this service is provided at no cost to our patients," said Capt. McKenna.

Air Ambulances are used primarily for high-acuity, long-range patient transport and can operate anywhere in the world, day or night, in all kinds of weather.

Each jet has a Captain, a First Officer, a Flight Nurse and Critical Care Doctor on board.

"Patients receive the absolute highest level of clinical care from the LifeFlight aeromedical teams.  To have a Flight Nurse and Critical Care Doctor assessing and treating the patient while they are in transit to hospital, can help lead to more positive health outcomes and potentially a faster recovery," said LifeFlight Critical Care Doctor Paul Duggan.

Townsville Airport has been a  proud supporter of LifeFlight Air Ambulance and given the organisation a generous discount on the cost of renting hangar space, over the past decade.