Starship Reveals new Life-Saving Air Ambulance

The new Starship National Air Ambulance plane may look fun on the outside - but there's serious stuff going on in the inside.

Today, the new Starship National Air Ambulance plane was revealed - a King Air 350 turbo prop that is faster and quieter than the previous plane.  The exterior of the plane has been decked out with childlike pictures of doctors, nurses, patients, rockets, planets and stars.

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"Starship has the national paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and a dedicated team that can fly anywhere in the country at any time of the day or night to treat a seriously ill or injured child," says the Clinical Director of Starship's Paediatric Intensive Care Unit, John Beca.  "The high-tech equipment on-board is a mobile intensive care unit with full life-support capabilities.  However, we shouldn't under-estimate the value of having a more child-friendly plane on the outside either, as this can help reduce anxiety for the patient and their family at a very stressful time."

John Beca, Clinical Director of Starship's Paediatric Intensive Care Unit

The King Air turbo prop is the world's most popular and safest current production turbo-prop aircraft.  The plane's long range capability enables non-stop flights to nearly all New Zealand destinations, and its speed (of up to 300 knots) means it has faster response and retrieval times than the previous service.  The new plane also has the latest avionics technology, including 'synthetic vision' giving pilots the safest and most reliable means of navigation day and night.

Year-round, day and night, the Starship National Air Ambulance brings children from all over New Zealand to Starship.

It flies a dedicated retrieval team who are specialised in the care of children from around the country. These specialists help stabilise the children where necessary and then bring them back to Starship's Paediatric Intensive Care Unit where they can receive the life-saving care they need.

Starship Foundation raises $1.5 million annually for the Starship National Air Ambulance Service. Anyone can support the air ambulance at  Other major contributors to the Starship National Air Ambulance include Starship Foundation Sponsor SKY and Starship Foundation's regular givers as well as proceeds from the Starship Mobile Phone Appeal and from the sale of Starship Christmas albums.

"We are so grateful to the generous organisations and people from all around the country who help us raise the funds to keep this lifeline for New Zealand families in the air," says Starship Foundation Chief Executive Brad Clark.  "Without their support, we could not provide such a vital service to every child in urgent need of lifesaving care."

The plane is operated by Skyline Aviation - a privately owned, New Zealand family business led by directors Mike and Annabel Toogood, and with more than 23 years' experience in rescuing and transporting critically injured or ill patients.

The exterior of the plane was designed by award-winning ad agency Republik and painted by Elliott Aviation.