Proposed airport upgrade a 'priority' for Flying Doctors
A MULTI-MILLION dollar upgrade to the Collinsville Aerodome will assist the Royal Flying Doctor Service in providing the region with reliable emergency evacuation - but only if a government grant is approved.
Over the last year, the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) has landed 24 times in Collinsville, flying 26 patients to tertiary and emergency care.
Currently, the RFDS fleet is made up of two different planes - a smaller B200 KingAir and a larger B350 KingAir.
Both planes are able to land at the Collinsville Aerodrome during the day however due to current limitations at the airport, night hours operation is limited to the smaller B200 aircraft.
Collinsville is primarily serviced from the Townsville RFDS base which operates two of the larger B350 aircraft, meaning that during night time hours, there may not be an achievable aeromedical retrieval.
At Wednesday's Whitsunday Regional Council ordinary meeting councillors moved to apply for a $750,000 grant to upgrade the Collinsville Aerodrome as part of the Federal Governments Remote Airstrip Upgrade Program.
With a co-contribution of $750,000 from the council's Airport Reserve budget, the project would deliver the Collinsville Aerodrome with a lighting and certification upgrade.
The upgrades would include the design and construction of upgraded aerodrome lighting that is compliant with the regulations, runway widening to meet new standards - including an 80m graded strip and a 140m ungraded flyover - designing and publishing an instrument approach, installing clearance lighting for nearby hills with remote monitoring and replacing fencing.
In the Whitsunday region, only Collinsville is eligible for the funding as it is classified as 'remote' by the 2016 Australian Statistical Geographic Standard.
The proposed upgrade to make the Collinsville Aerodrome compliant is estimated to have an increase in operational costs of about $50,000, with no expected increase to income.
The upgrades to the Collinsville Airport are a key strategic priority for the RFDS and they have thrown their support behind the application.