Loganair Begins Air Ambulance Conversions For Transporting COVID-19 Patients

Loganair air ambulance conversion
Credit: Loganair

Scottish carrier Loganair has begun converting aircraft from its fleet for air ambulance capability to provide safe transport of COVID-19 patients.

Loganair’s Engineering and Flight Operations teams at Glasgow finished its first conversion of a 19-seat Twin Otter aircraft last week, removing seats to allow for the carriage of an EpiShuttle isolation pod that can be safely secured in aircraft, helicopters and ambulances. According to EpiGuard, the manufacturer of the isolation pods, the EpiShuttle can be used to safely transport highly infectious patients without the need to disinfect vehicles afterward.

The aircraft, which will be based at Glasgow Airport and operated by Loganair pilots in partnership with the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS), began operations on April 3.

“The team effort to make this happen, moving from a concept to an operational solution in just a week, has been absolutely incredible,” says Jonathan Hinkles, chief executive, Loganair. “Between the SAS and Loganair teams, the concept, testing and training has all taken place and we’re also grateful for the support from the Civil Aviation Authority in progressing this project.”

The carrier is now working to convert a larger Saab 340 aircraft which will be able to carry two EpiShuttle pods and accompanying medical teams simultaneously. Loganair expects the aircraft to be ready sometime this week.

The Twin Otter aircraft will serve Barra Airport while the Saab 340 will operate into all Highlands and Islands airports in Scotland. Earlier this month Loganair reduced its flight operations by 55%, which is planned until the end of May, but the carrier plans to maintain lifeline services with reduced frequency.

“Although the circumstances under which all of this work has been undertaken are ones that we’d never wished to see, I’m heartened that the effort which has gone into this is truly admirable,” says Hinkles. “We will support the SAS, the NHS and the island communities who rely on Loganair for their lifeline air services if and when our assistance is needed.”

Lindsay Bjerregaard

Lindsay Bjerregaard is managing editor for Aviation Week’s MRO portfolio. Her coverage focuses on MRO technology, workforce, and product and service news for AviationWeek.com, Aviation Week Marketplace and Inside MRO.