Babcock Teams With Vertical To Explore eVTOL EMS

Low noise and vibration with zero emissions could be advantages for eVTOL in EMS missions.
Credit: Vertical Aerospace

Vertical Aerospace and Babcock International are exploring application of the VX4 electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) air taxi to emergency medical services and cargo transportation.

Babcock is the third-largest provider of helicopter emergency services in the UK and also has operations in Australia, Canada, Europe and Scandinavia.

Vertical and Babcock will look at how the 100-mi.-range, 200-mph VX4 could be used for services such as responding to accidents and providing emergency transport between hospitals. The piloted four-seat VX4 is planned to enter service in 2025, although Vertical has yet to fly its full-scale technology demonstrator. The companies also plan to develop modular maintenance capabilities to support the VX4 in service.

Emergency medical service (EMS) is widely viewed as a potential early application for eVTOL aircraft that would provide public benefit and help establish social acceptance for advanced air mobility (AAM). German air rescue organization ADAC has reserved two Volocopter VoloCitys for operational testing and is looking at using the eVTOL to fly trauma doctors to accident locations.

Swiss startup Dufour Aerospace is developing its Aero3 tiltwing eVTOL as a direct replacement for EMS helicopters, with the ability to fly 550 nm at speeds up to 190 kt. with hybrid-electric propulsion. Other eVTOL startups such as Italy’s Manta Aircraft and Hungary’s Orca Aerospace have identified medical services and patient transportation as key markets for their planned aircraft.

For UK startup Vertical, interest from EMS operator Babcock represents a potential expansion of the market for its VX4, which is so far dominated by airlines. Global helicopter operator Bristow Group has placed conditional preorders and options for up to 50 VX4 and Netherlands-based business aviation operator FlyingGroup has placed a preorder for 50 aircraft.


Graham Warwick

Graham leads Aviation Week's coverage of technology, focusing on engineering and technology across the aerospace industry, with a special focus on identifying technologies of strategic importance to aviation, aerospace and defense.