From The Archives: DC-8 Becomes Flying Eye Hospital

A leading U.S. airline donated a McDonnell Douglas DC-8-21 to a charity that configured it as a flying eye hospital as well as a classroom for teaching. The charity began its work in 1982 to teach medical procedures to opthalmologists around the world. 

Project Orbis had been developing the flying eye hospital and classroom concept for over ten years before that. The charity knew that it was impractical to get opthamologists to travel to its headquarters in New York, and it was suggested that an aircraft would provide speed and mobility.

United Airlines donated the aircraft, a DC-8-21, with Pratt & Whitney JT4A-11 engine, a gift from United Technologies Corp. Modifying and outfitting the aircraft cost $4 million and included installation and provisions for approximately 14,000 lb. of equipment and supplies for eye examination, advanced surgery and classroom instruction. The configuration of the jet included a patient examination area, and an operating theatre.

See interior photographs featured in the article, written by Erwin J. Bulban, and read more about the surgical and teaching facilities. 

If you're subscriber you can read the full article published on Mar. 22, 1982 in Aviation Week & Space Technology. 


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