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Life Flight Air Ambulance Milestone: 1,000 Flown

Life Flight Air Ambulance Milestone: 1,000 Flown

The Life Flight Trust reached an important milestone recently with its Auckland-based air ambulance service. Over 1,000 people have flown with the service since it started in February last year: 579 patients and 480 family/support people.

The service, based at Auckland International Airport, ensures that patients needing access to specialist healthcare services are flown there quickly, supported by a team of aero-medical professionals. Life Flight simply describes it as “intensive care in the sky”.

“We work closely with the Auckland DHB to provide the service and have a strong medical team: whether it is an 82 year old patient requiring specialist cardiac treatment or a premature baby getting flown in a purpose-built incubator to Auckland’s Starship Children’s Health, Life Flight truly helps save lives” says Ian Lauder, Auckland Operations Manager for Life Flight. “We can also carry up to 4 family members/support people to be with their loved one in a time of trauma which is invaluable to those involved.”

Kevin Allan, Life Flight’s General Manager adds: “We would not have been able to help so many people get the specialist care they need without the fantastic support Life Flight receives from the New Zealand Community Trust, the principal funder of the Auckland service.”

For more information on Life Flight please visit






Life Flight is contracted by the Auckland District Health Board (ADHB) to provide an Auckland-based fixed wing air ambulance service. The ADHB sought a reputable, high quality service to meet the needs of Starship Hospital and other DHBs needing to transfer patients to Auckland for advanced care.

Fixed wing air ambulances play a vital part in the well being of New Zealanders. They provide an essential link to access advanced health care services ensuring patients are given the highest quality of 'bed to bed' service available in New Zealand.

The Life Flight Trust has been operating a successful fixed wing air ambulance service since 1983. Life Flight is committed to provide a timely, high quality, cost effective intensive care air ambulance to District Health Boards throughout New Zealand.

The Auckland-based service commenced operation on Monday 14 February and was officially launched by the Trust’s Patron at the time, Her Excellency The Governor-General of New Zealand, the Honourable Dame Silvia Cartwright, PCNZM, DBE, on Thursday 10th March 2005.

Life Flight has a pressurised Metroliner aircraft which is dedicated to the Auckland service. It uses the same type of aircraft for its Wellington service. These distinctive red aircraft have the capacity to transfer up to two stretcher patients, four family members, a Life Flight crewperson and up to four specialist clinicians at one time. Life Flight is the only air ambulance provider in New Zealand with aircraft of this capability.

In providing the services in both Auckland and Wellington Life Flight is able to achieve better coordination and provision of high quality air ambulance services for patients needing advanced medical care on a national basis. In addition, it will gives the flexibility, with two aircraft, to meet demand for the services.

The service is available 24 hours a day 7 days per week.

Facts about the Auckland service Metroliner Air Ambulance

Our Metroliner has the following features:

- Pressurised aircraft - can maintain sea level pressurisation in the cabin while flying at up to 15,000 feet - often critical for the care of seriously ill patients

- Two pilot, IFR operation " Capacity to transport two stretcher patients, each supported by two clinical staff plus four additional seated patients and / or family members / support people

- The aircraft can fly the length of NZ or to the Chatham Islands and back without refueling.

Backup aircraft are also available when required.

Medical Teams

Auckland District Health Board (DHB) have a Clinical Director responsible for the clinical teams and overall quality of clinical support for the air ambulance service.

- One Doctor and one Flight Nurse are available 24hours seven days per week.

- Two complete Stretcher Bridges are available with monitor, ventilator and syringe drivers.

- The service also transports clinical teams and equipment from Starship and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Auckland DHB for retrieval and return of babies and young children. Equipment from these units has been modified to fit the new role equipment.
Flight Teams

- A Life Flight Crewperson assists with missions. Their role is to: - coordinate missions and road transport - assist with the transfer of patients and specialist equipment - provide support to family members/support people

- On every mission there is a minimum of two pilots, one crew person and one flight nurse. Additional medical staff are provided if required.

- The Auckland service can be in the air, fully crewed with the appropriate equipment within 90 minutes of receiving a flight request.


The Life Flight Trust has invested in state of the art medical role equipment including two stretcher bridges. Other medical equipment will also be used by the Life Flight clinical teams.

Airport Base

The new service is based at Auckland International Airport Limited.


The New Zealand Community Trust is the Principal Funder of the new air ambulance service. Their commitment gave Life Flight the confidence and security to start up the service.

Life Flight is seeking two Major Sponsors to support the on-going operation of the service.

The Life Flight Trust Background

The Life Flight Trust is a charitable trust established in 1982. Since then over 10,000 air rescue and air ambulance missions have been flown by the Trust.

The Trust is a member of Ambulance New Zealand and the Aviation Industry Association Air Rescue/Air Ambulance Division and holds ISO9001:2000 accreditation.

The Trust is firmly committed to sound governance. It is directed by a Board of Trustees with a wide range of expertise. The Board is responsible for ensuring that the Trust meets it's Mission Statement:

"To save lives and reduce the effects of injury and illness by providing air ambulance and air rescue services".


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