NZ medical service makes landmark flight to Vanuatu

Annabel Toogood (left), Mike Toogood, Willy Neilson, first officer, Rowan Brookfield, crewman, Anand Desai, doctor, Angela Coward, flight nurse and Justin Van Wichen, captain.
Annabel Toogood (left), Mike Toogood, Willy Neilson, first officer, Rowan Brookfield, crewman, Anand Desai, doctor, Angela Coward, flight nurse and Justin Van Wichen, captain.

HAWKE’S Bay company Skyline Aviation and associate company the New Zealand Air Ambulance Service have successfully completed the first medical evacuation of a patient from Vanuatu to New Zealand in their recently-commissioned Cessna Sovereign 680 jet.

The mission departed directly to Vanuatu from Napier on Monday with a full intensive care team on board.

“Our new Napier based international jet service builds on our company’s current Auckland jet services with the commissioning of a new Cessna Sovereign jet which can fly non-stop for up to 3000 nautical miles, enabling our critical care aeromedical services to deliver lifesaving support well beyond our current South Pacific island capabilities,” company director Annabel Toogood said.

The new jet is fitted with dual stretchers and a full complement of critical care equipment, with specially trained flight nurses and intensive care doctors providing in flight intensive care for the critically ill or injured.

The new jet will also be used to support the Starship Children’s Hospital air ambulance national service which the companies operate from their Auckland base, as well as providing services for time critical organ transfers and retrievals both within NZ and Australia.

Skyline Aviation is responsible for all aspects of the new jet operation including piloting and maintenance at its Napier facility, boosting employment in the business.

“The jet will also be available for charter flights within New Zealand and globally with seating for up to nine passengers in first class comfort,” Toogood said.

Skyline Aviation and its founding director Mike Toogood established the dedicated Hawke’s Bay rescue helicopter service in 1992.

Skyline has since grown to become a national leader in NZ’s aeromedical services with a fleet of 12 aircraft, employing over 80 staff including pilots, engineers, flight nurses and doctors, with bases in Napier, Hastings, Gisborne and Auckland.

A new Wellington based jet air ambulance operation will also commence business later this month said the company.

“The commissioning of the Cessna Sovereign jet is another exciting milestone for our Hawke’s Bay based business and further demonstration of our continuing commitment to operating new technology high performance aircraft and supporting our growing number of New Zealand and international clients.”

Skyline plans to build a new jet centre and hanger facility at the Hawke’s Bay Airport in coming months to house the new aircraft and provide new international departure and arrival services.

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