Following its first flight in July, the first of six Pilatus PC-24 twinjets ordered less than a year earlier as initial equipment for the newly established Swedish Air Ambulance Organization (Kommunalförbundet Svenskt Ambulansflyg: KSA) is being equipped with a medical interior by fellow Swiss company Aerolite. Standard fit is for three recumbent patients and four seated passengers, but the cabin can be reconfigured quickly for neonatal life support and other emergencies. All six PC-24s are scheduled to be delivered during 2021, deployed in pairs at Umea, Stockholm and Gothenburg.
Gulfstream 550 In Fourth Year With Beijing 999
Beijing’s integrated 999 service took delivery of China’s first fixed-wing air ambulance in November 2016, when it acquired a Dassault Falcon 2000LX. The following March, the service added a Gulfstream G550 that the airframer specially modified in the U.S. with a medical suite designed by American company Lifeport Inc. in collaboration with the customer. On-board equipment includes a medical bay, hospital beds with inboard tracking capabilities, refrigerated medical storage cabinets and X-ray viewing equipment.
Jetflite Converts Challenger 650 For Coronavirus
A Bombardier Challenger 650 has been pressed into counter-COVID ambulance service by Finnish operator Jetflite, and has proven its value within weeks. The company had been intending to operate the jet in an executive configuration on behalf of the Finnish company Wihuri Group following its delivery on March 26, but Jetflite converted it to accommodate two stretchers, a portable isolation unit, a COVID-19 test kit, and personal protective equipment for crew and an on-board medical team. The aircraft flew 100 hr. in its first 14 days as an ambulance.
Flying Colours Modifies Challenger 650s
Credit: Flying Colours
Jetflite’s experience with the Bombardier Challenger 650 only confirms an existing trend. In December 2018, Flying Colours Corp (FC), of Peterborough, Ontario, wrapped up a contract with Rega–Swiss Air-Rescue when the completions house delivered the third 650 in an ambulance configuration FC had designed in conjunction with medical equipment specialists Aerolite and Bombardier’s Specialized Aircraft division. The aircraft can be reconfigured between a flying intensive-care facility for two patients and medical transport for four patients.
HondaJet Air Ambulance Flies In Hawaii
The first operator of the HondaJet to take delivery of an air ambulance variant, Wing Spirit of Oahu, Hawaii, has put its aircraft at the disposal of the local community. The company picked up the tab for flights in April, at an estimated cost of $1 million. Outbound sorties between islands are covered by insurance, but return missions are not: Wing Spirit provides them for free. Although in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the flights were not only for those patients; the intent was to ensure hospital beds could be kept available across the islands.
Citation Latitude In Norway Ambulance Deal
A striking yellow livery is not the only distinguishing characteristic of the Citation Latitude delivered by Textron to Babcock’s Scandinavian Air Ambulance division. The jet has a two-bed air-ambulance configuration with a number of design features reflecting Textron’s decision to build special-missions capabilities into its aircraft from the drawing-board stage. The aircraft complements 10 Beechcraft King Air 250s which Babcock is using to supply a Norwegian government requirement for fixed-wing air-ambulance services. The six-year contract began on July 1, 2019.
FAI Switches To Long-Distance Flying
Normal business for the Nuremberg, Germany-based FAI air ambulance division involves relatively short-distance flights in and around Europe, mixed with occasional trips to the Middle East. Mostly, these flights are operated by the company’s Learjets. But since the COVID-19 pandemic struck, operations have shifted; longer-range flights now predominate because the positioning of spares or maintenance crews for Learjets has become impossible. Consequently, FAI now operates only a single Learjet 60, while four of its five Bombardier Challenger 604s are in constant aeromed use, as is one Global Express air ambulance.
RUAG Modifies Swiss Air Force EC635
COVID-proofing an in-service airframe is not easy—but RUAG MRO Switzerland completed the task on two Swiss Air Force EC635s within a matter of days and make them available for use in coronavirus support missions. The work involved screening the cockpit from the cabin to protect pilots, formulating a comprehensive disinfection solution for the entire aircraft and ensuring the medical devices added to the helicopters were shielded from possible electronic interference. All of the service’s EC635s carry basic medical equipment.
Rostec Offers COVID Upgrade For Ansat
Credit: Russian Helicopters
Around 30 air ambulance variants of the Kazan Ansat are in service with Russian regional operators under the aegis of the State Transport Leasing Company (GTLK). Earlier this year, the Rostec State Corp.’s Russian Helicopters announced it had reached agreement with Rosaviatsiya, the country’s federal air-transport agency, to fit isolation units on board to enable transportation of COVID-positive patients. The light-twin helicopter’s air ambulance version was certified in May 2015. GTLK has acquired a combined 91 Ansats and Mil Mi-17s for support of remote Russian communities.
Embraer Introduces Phenom 300MED
Embraer in August launched a medevac version of its Phenom 300 light jet designated 300MED. It is offered new or as a retrofit through a partnership with European aerospace company Umlaut and Aerolite, a medical interior developer and supplier. A supplemental type certificate is being sought for a range of interiors, with either one or two stretchers; the ability to carry an incubator and additional medical equipment; plus hospital-grade trim and finishing. Umlaut contributes aircraft engineering, refurbishment and certification experience, while Aerolite specializes in designing and installing aeromedical interiors.
Wars—and pandemics—accelerate change. Long-established air-medical companies gain more work, but also more competitors, as business aircraft operators step in to provide extra evacuation and repatriation flights.