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CareFlight/Pel-Air Medical Evacuation Incident - Samoa to Melbourne
Thursday, 19 November 2009


A CareFlight medical evacuation flight operated by Pel-Air Aviation from Apia (Western Samoa) to Melbourne was scheduled to land at Norfolk Island for a planned fuel stop on Wednesday evening when it encountered deteriorating weather conditions.

After several unsuccessful approaches and with diminishing fuel, the pilot-in-command, Captain Dominic James, made the decision to carry out a controlled landing onto the water off the coast of Norfolk Island.

The aircraft, a specially-equipped medical retrieval Westwind jet carried out a successful landing on the water and the patient, accompanying spouse and two medical crew as well as the pilots evacuated safely. They were rescued by boat and brought to the local Norfolk Island hospital for observation. The Captain reported that all passengers and crew did not have any apparent injuries.

John Sharp, Chairman of Pel-Air Aviation said that he was very proud of the Captain and the First Officer. “They performed an intricate landing on water in darkness resulting in the evacuation of everyone safely and quickly. The training of both the Pel-Air and CareFlight crew came to the fore as everyone kept together and remained calm. Their professionalism stood out on the day and made a substantial difference to the outcome.”

“I also want to thank the rescue team and the local authorities for their prompt action and dedication which resulted in a speedy rescue and evacuation to the hospital.”

CareFlight Chief Executive Officer, Derek Colenbrander, said the successful outcome was testimony to the skill and training of the pilots, the prompt action of local authorities and the efforts of the medical team in continuing to care for their patient.

Arrangements are being made for the patient to be repatriated to Australia.