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In for the long haul

Saturday, 1st September, 2018

Local RFDS engineer Nick Mann is escorting the first of the new RFDS aircraft from the USA to Broken Hill. PICTURE: Supplied Local RFDS engineer Nick Mann is escorting the first of the new RFDS aircraft from the USA to Broken Hill. PICTURE: Supplied

By Myles Burt

The first of three new aircraft for the RFDS is on its way from the USA along with a Broken Hill engineer, Nick Mann. 

The Beechcraft Kingair 350s have been manufactured in Wichita and are making a 10-day multi-leg journey to Australia from North America to Europe, The Middle East and Asia.

RFDS engineer Nick Mann has been flown over to help ensure the planes run smoothly as they traverse thousands of kilometres to the Silver City. 

Yesterday, Mr Mann would have left Iceland, briefly stopping off in Birmingham, UK and to rest for the night on the island of Crete, Greece.

“It’s been a bit of a challenge, he said. “But it’s been very good so far.”

The additional aircraft will bump the RFDS South-Eastern Sector’s fleet from 17 to 21. The state-of-the-art planes will also make a huge difference,  according to Mr Mann.

“This aircraft will not only benefit flight operations and medical staff but most importantly the people of the bush, he said.

“The 350s are able to take more people and more specialist equipment out to the areas.

“Having an aircraft that’s capable of taking a team of doctors, nurses or mental health specialists and all their equipment to rural and remote areas is absolutely critical.”

Mr Mann said the lifespan of the RFDS planes was 15 to 20 years.

“The fleet is slightly aging and with that comes higher maintenance costs compared to a newer aircraft,” he said.

Engineers at the local RFDS Base were also keen to have a look at the new, bigger Kingairs, he said.

“I’m pretty well across the 350s but the guys in Broken Hill haven’t touched one,” said Mr Mann.

“The 350s are slightly bigger and with that comes new challenges.

“It’ll trigger some training for a few of the guys which will be good, a bit of upskilling for the local guys.”

Mr Mann said the new aircraft would also feature a new livery and a noticeable red underbelly.

“We can’t wait to get them home back to Broken Hill and show off our brand new King Air 350s,” he said

“Everyone loves the red belly, so you can tell it’s a RFDS plane when you’re flying over.”

The first plane is due to arrive on Thursday or Friday next week.

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