Flying Doctor nominates 50 remote airstrips for improvements

AIRSTRIP LIGHTING:  Emma and Fred Osman received airstrip lighting for Omicron Station near Tibooburra. Fifty remote airstrips are being improved in NSW. Photo: Contributed.
AIRSTRIP LIGHTING: Emma and Fred Osman received airstrip lighting for Omicron Station near Tibooburra. Fifty remote airstrips are being improved in NSW. Photo: Contributed.

Improvements to 50 remote airstrips in NSW is expected to save lives and preserve expensive aircraft and equipment belonging to the Royal Flying Doctor Service South Eastern Section (RFDS SE).

The RFDS SE nominated the airstrips for work ranging from the erection of animal-proof fencing and resurfacing to the introduction of lighting and navigation aids.

Airstrips at Coolah, Goodooga, Ivanhoe, Louth, Packsaddle, Tilpa, White Cliffs and Yunta are among the 50.

Funding for the project predominately comes from the federal government’s Remote Airstrip Upgrade Program. The government has allocated $11.8 million to making aerodromes in remote Australia safe and more accessible, allowing for better delivery of essential goods and services including healthcare.

Having a larger network of designated night landing strips will mean shorter journeys for injured or unwell people in remote locations, which we believe will save lives

Royal Flying Doctor Service South Eastern Section community development coordinator Sarah Little

RFDS SE reports that the NSW project is also being supported by a “very generous donor”, who prefers to remain anonymous.

Its community development coordinator Sarah Little has recently inspected airstrip upgrades and delivered lighting flares. She reports that the “works are progressing well”.

“Having a larger network of designated night landing strips will mean shorter journeys for injured or unwell people in remote locations, which we believe will save lives,” she said.

“Navigation aids and reliable lighting will enable us to work with confidence and increased safety in time-sensitive emergency situations, in darkness and in most weather conditions.” 

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Ms Little said the selection of the 50 airstrips was based on “where we have landed the most emergency flights or clinic services during the past year”.

“These are necessary upgrades as aviation regulations are getting ever tighter and both the RFDS SE and our patients rightly have high expectations around safety and quality of healthcare,” she said.

“We also fly very expensive, sophisticated aircraft with mini-intensive care units in the back, assets we are keen to preserve.”