NZ Flying Doctor Service receives new plane following increased demand

The New Zealand Flying Doctor Service has a new plane since the number of flights continues to increase each year.

The service carries some of the sickest and most vulnerable patients throughout the country, and its trust purchased the plane to meet demand.

Flying Doctor Service pilot Matt Hayes said the plane is "pretty whizz-bang".

With a range of 1500 nautical miles and an airspeed of 480 km/h, the aircraft can cut an eight-hour vehicle journey from Invercargill to Christchurch down to just one hour.

"This machine with this gear here is pretty state of the art. We can see the terrain through the synthetic vision of the screens we have available to us," Hayes said.

It has room for two stretchers, four medical crew and space for family.

NZ Flying Doctor Trust chairperson Dr David Bowie said it's designed to streamline the management of well-known conditions such as a stroke, heart attack or spinal injury.

The Flying Doctor Service's first high-profile mission was 25 years ago during the Cave Creek disaster, where 14 people died after a scenic viewing platform collapsed.

Since then it's been in constant demand.

"We might have done 150 patients all those years ago, and now we're up to 500 or 600 patients a year," Dr Bowie said.

NZ Flying Doctor Trust CEO Christine Prince said the number of flights the service conducts has increased 17 percent year on year.

Each flight costs an average of $2500 and $3 million needs to be raised each year to prop up the government-funded service.

"It certainly is between life and death a lot of the time," Hayes said.