‘Flying doctors’ unveil special aircraft that can reach disaster areas in Japan and nearby countries

Kyodo

A team of “flying doctors” providing emergency care in disaster areas showed off its specially adapted aircraft on Thursday at Saga airport.

The team, made up of doctors from Saga University Hospital and pilots, is on standby around the clock, according to the Asia Pacific Alliance for Disaster Management Japan, the operator of the unit.

The group had its start in late August following a series of natural disasters in and around Japan. A private medical team which can simultaneously offer both medical assistance and disaster relief by air is rare around the world, the team said.

The aircraft, shown to the media at the Saga Prefecture airport, is a twin-engine turboprop made by Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. with a capacity of 10 passengers and one crew member.

Traveling by the aircraft with a flight range of about 3,800 km, the team can reach other Asian countries and remote islands.

“We would like to expand our activities to refugee support and other humanitarian assistance in the future,” said Kensuke Onishi, head of the operator known as A-PAD Japan.

A-PAD is a transnational disaster aid alliance with Bangladesh, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines and Sri Lanka as members.

The Japanese arm, set up in 2015, has engaged in rescue and support activities in northern Kyushu, affected by heavy rain that triggered flooding and mudslides earlier this year, as well as Kumamoto Prefecture, which was hit by major earthquakes last year.