"flying Doctor" Team For Disaster Relief Unveils Aircraft In Saga

A team of "flying doctors" providing emergency medical support to disaster zones on Thursday showed its specially adapted aircraft to the press at Saga airport in southwestern Japan.

The team consisting of doctors from Saga University Hospital and pilots is on standby around the clock to provide relief in times of disasters, according to the Asia Pacific Alliance for Disaster Management Japan, the operator of the emergency unit.

It was launched 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 airplane of the emergency unit, based at the airport in Saga Prefecture, is a twin-engine turboprop made by Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. with a capacity of 10 passengers and one crew member.

By utilizing the aircraft with a flight range of some 3,800 kilometers, the team can offer its service in other Asian countries and on remote islands.

"We would like to expand our activities to refugee support and other humanitarian assistance in the future in addition to disaster relief," said Kensuke Onishi, head of the operator A-PAD Japan.

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

Its 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, in the region hit by major earthquakes last year.