Ella was 35 weeks pregnant & driving an outback truck when her waters broke!

Ella was 35 weeks pregnant & driving an outback truck when her waters broke!

When transport company owners, Ella Reindler and her husband Dave, set out on ‘one last trucking trip’ from Perth to the remote Kimberley, they knew it would likely be their last road trip together as a couple, before their new baby arrived.

But neither of them expected that, at just 35 weeks pregnant, Ella’s waters would break in the middle of nowhere and hundreds of kilometres away from the nearest hospital.

Both Ella and Dave are extremely experienced outback travellers, regularly driving thousands of kilometres across some of the remotest parts of WA and often camping in isolated outback locations for weeks at a time.

But when this hard-working young couple realised their baby had decided to arrive prematurely on the road between Halls Creek and Warmun, neither of them felt particularly prepared

Ella holding baby Lucas in front of prime mover truck.

In this extraordinary Episode #88 of the Flying Doctor podcast, Ella recounts how – with Dave exhausted after 15 hours of driving – she climbed into the driver’s seat and headed for Kununurra Hospital.

Given the baby’s premature gestation, Ella was soon loaded onto an RFDS flight to Broome.

But Dave (you guessed it) hopped back into their truck and drove another1000km plus, to help welcome a healthy baby Lucas into the world.

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Link to RFDS Podcast – #88 Ella was 35 weeks pregnant & driving an outback truck when her waters broke!

RFDS celebrates 200 helicopter retrievals

RFDS helicopter retrievals

Article supplied by RFDS

200 patients of all ages have been transferred by the Fortescue Heli-Med Service EC145 helicopters since they joined the RFDS fleet 18 months ago.

baby lexie

The RFDS WA is celebrating 200 patient retrievals in the Fortescue Heli-Med Service EC145 helicopters.

It comes 18 months since the hospital-to-hospital service was launched, with the two helicopters adding versatility to the RFDS aircraft fleet.

The most common retrieval site is Rottnest Island (33) followed by Bunbury (23) and Narrogin (20.) In total, patients have been transferred from 45 different locations, with sportsgrounds often used as a landing pad in regional towns.

The helicopters can land on rooftop heli-pads at Perth tertiary hospitals including Fiona Stanley Hospital, Royal Perth Hospital, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Perth Children’s Hospital and King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women, drastically reducing road travel time in an ambulance.

Mostly used for retrievals within a 250 kilometre radius of Jandakot Airport, the Heli-Med service was able to expand its service area when charity Rapid Relief Team (RRT) donated 800L weatherproof fuel bunds to the wheatbelt towns of Cunderdin, Katanning and Dalwallinu in September.

“On certain flights, mainly because of weather, the rotary team need to refuel enroute before arriving at the retrieval destination,” Elaine Cadzow, Rotary Fleet Manager explained.

“The donation of the fuel bunds has allowed the Fortescue Heli-Med Service to carry the additional fuel reserves required on windy days to fly to Katanning, Cunderdin or Dalwallinu, pick up the patient and then onto a Perth tertiary hospital”.

Patients of all ages have used the service, including 13 babies and children aged 9 and under, and four aged in their 90s.

Pictured is Hines Hill mother Jess Silver, whose daughter Lexie was the first baby transferred by the Newborn Emergency Transfer Service (NETS) using the Heli-Med service, flying from Merredin Oval to the rooftop heli-pad at PCH in just 45 minutes.

RFDS Statement – Queensland Section – Nurses EBA

Article supplied by RFDS

Our nurses have voted over the past three days on the proposed RFDS enterprise agreement. They have been highly engaged in the ballot process with a 90% participation rate, and voted 43% in favour and 57% against.

We respect the decision of our nurses and remain committed to working in good faith with them and the union to reach an agreement as soon as we can, so that we can increase our nurses’ pay.

We offered our nurses a 13% increase over three years, backdated to 1 July 2023. We believe it’s a fair offer that compares with the rest of the healthcare sector, including Queensland Health nurses.

The increase we offered would have cost the RFDS more than $3.2 million over three years and was as much as we can afford.

As a charity, we receive critical Federal and State Government funding each year, and despite that, we run at an operational deficit. As a result, we rely on donors and fundraising to cover that gap, and we are extremely grateful to the people who support us and the critical services we provide.

Like everybody, we are also facing increased operational costs like wages, aircraft fuel, parts and equipment, and the cost of maintaining our bases and aircraft. We need to ensure we are sustainable for the communities we serve and continue to provide our services as we have done for the last 95 years.

We are incredibly grateful to our nurses who work tirelessly to provide skilled and compassionate care.

Improvements to Ballina airspace to come into effect in 2025

ballina airspace

Article supplied by CASA

Airspace around Ballina Airport will be controlled by air traffic controllers from 2025 as the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and Airservices Australia move to develop services to accommodate the airport’s growth. 

The announcement follows an airspace review conducted in 2022 by CASA which included extensive feedback from industry and subsequent discussions with Airservices on timing for the establishment of controlled airspace and air traffic services.

CASA has issued a direction to establish controlled airspace from 2025 and will work closely with Airservices to support airspace design.

The first phase will see the airspace reclassified and an approach control service provided by Airservices by 12 June 2025.

The second phase will see the establishment of a new aerodrome control service by Airservices no later than 27 November 2025.

The establishment of enhanced air traffic services comes on the back of sustained growth in air traffic in the region and is part of a graduated approach to safely accommodate further growth.

‘When we review airspace it’s important that we look not only at what is happening today, but also to look at growth trends in recent years and what operators are predicting into the future,’ CASA Branch Manager Air Navigation, Airspace and Aerodromes Adrian Slootjes said.

‘We consider a range of data and information, look at incidents and occurrences and take a risk-based approach to our recommendations.

‘While there have been a range of incremental changes and enhancements in aviation safety in the region, we consider that these additional changes are required to ensure the safety of passenger transport operations and all airspace users in and around Ballina.’

Improvements already made around Ballina include changes to radio frequencies used by pilots to reduce congestion, provision of a Surveillance Flight Information Service (SFIS) to provide pilots with information about other aircraft in the area, and the introduction of an Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast ground station to allow appropriately equipped aircraft to be more easily detected by air traffic control.

Work on an Airspace Change Proposal outlining details of the new service and aimed at ensuring it meets necessary requirements will continue throughout 2024.

The timing also allows CASA and Airservices to engage with aviation and community stakeholders, including the sports and recreational aviation community, about safely accessing controlled airspace.

Tenterfield Airport NSW: Council Seeks Sell-Off

Article supplied by AOPA

The future of Tenterfield Airport in New South Wales is at risk with news that the Tenterfield Shire Council is seeking a sell off of the community airport asset, with non-aviation property developers said to be circling.

Council CEO Daryl Buckingham, who has been in the job for less than 12 months, is said to have given clear instructions to the Council’s Development Manager Bruce Mills to scope out all saleable assets with the community airport at the top of the list.

Located 6km north west of the township of Tenterfield, the community airport was purchased by Council in 1967 and has been an invaluable base of operations for local aerial agriculture, aerial firefighting and emergency services.  The airfield is also used for local business and recreational private aviation.  The grass runway is approx 1300m in length.“Tenterfield is just another example in a growing list of airport sites that are facing the the real threat of sell-off, in response to spiraling local council debts nationwide – this is a crisis in the making, ” Benjamin Morgan, AOPA Australia CEO. “Such outcomes nationwide are serving to further displace aviation through the introduction of uncontrolled commercial fees and charges, undermining the viability of aviation services throughout regional Australia, “When privatised owners realise there is little money to be made from charging user fees, the very next thing they do is start redeveloping the sites for non-aviation use, “AOPA Australia is reaching out to the Councillors and Management of the Tenterfield Shire Council seeking an opportunity to discuss this important situation, “Our association is encouraging the Council to reject any proposal to sell-off this invaluable community asset, highlighting the important and ongoing contribution the airfield makes to the safety, security and amenity of the local ratepayers and region,” he said.

Flying Doctor Community Transport Expands to Numurka

RFD expands to numurka

Article supplied by RFDS

Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) Victoria and NCN Health are pleased to announce a new partnership to bring the Flying Doctor Community Transport service to the community of Numurkah and surrounds.

Led by a local Program Coordinator and a team of highly trained volunteer drivers, Flying Doctor Community Transport is a free service offering eligible community members transportation to health appointments. The Flying Doctor has been successfully operating this service in Heathcote since 2018, and in Rochester since 2021.

This free service is scheduled to commence soon in the community and is supported by Western Victoria Primary Health Network, Murray Primary Health Network and Gippsland Primary Health Network under the Australian Government’s Primary Health Networks Program.

RFDS Victoria is working to break down barriers to accessing health care, wellbeing support and social connection across the state and is dedicated to assisting all Victorians to receive the care they need.

To find out more about Flying Doctor Community Transport and this new partnership with NCN Health, please call 1300 887 678 or email communitytransport@rfdsvic.com.au. More information will be shared as the service commences over the next few months.

Training and checking systems for flight operators

CASA training and checking systems for flight operators

Article supplied by CASA

The main role of a training and checking system is to keep skills up to date for:

crew members (flight crew, cabin crew, air crew, medical transport specialists, task specialists)

other staff safety-critical to operations.

What to consider

If you are developing a training and checking system for the first time, you should consider the following:

  • The earlier you start thinking about how to fit the system into your organisation, the easier it will be to implement.
  • Most of your employees are already required to undergo training and checking. Having a system brings these processes together to achieve a specific purpose.
  • The frequency of training and checking may be changing but in some instances you can use existing checks.
    • For example, the frequency of checks for some operators offering flights using visual flight rules (VFR) have changed. Under the old rules, a VFR charter operator only needed to ensure that pilots did a CASR Part 61 flight review every 2 years. Under the new Part 135 of CASR, VFR pilots will need to be checked every 12 months.

To learn more about what you need to do and by when visit Training and checking systems for flight operators.

AOPA Australia Submission: Removal of anti-competitive regulatory restrictions on flight training

Article: AOPA Australia The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of Australia this past week met with CASA CEO Ms Pip Spence, calling for the removal of anti-competitive regulatory restrictions, that are driving decline in general aviation flight training.

Article: AOPA Australia The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association of Australia this past week met with CASA CEO Ms Pip Spence, calling for the removal of anti-competitive regulatory restrictions, that are driving decline in general aviation flight training.

The AOPA Australia Submission is based on the COAG’s Competition Principles Agreement that have not been applied to aviation regulatory development since 2003.  AOPA Australia asserts that anti-competitive aviation regulations have been created since 2003 that have restricted safe competitive growth of small businesses by removing safe competitive regulations consistent to the Chicago Convention Annexes as implemented by the USA’s Federal Aviation Regulations. NZ has adopted the FARs and NZ small aviation and manufacturing are much healthier than Australia’s small civil aviation sectors.

Click to download a PDF Copy of the AOPA Australia Submission

Article written by Benjamin Morgan – AOPA Australia