The Norwegian Air Ambulance Foundation is working with Airbus to devise ways to deploy the manufacturer’s in-development CityAirbus NextGen aircraft for emergency medical flights. The partnership between the not-for-profit emergency medical service provider and the aircraft manufacturer was announced on March 8 during the Heli-Expo show in Atlanta.
The organizations said they will look at potential use cases for eVTOL aircraft in Norway with a view to integrating the operational requirements into the configuration of the CityAirbus vehicle. The project is expected to result in a roadmap for reducing emergency response times and improving patient outcomes by assessing how eVTOLs could complement existing helicopters already used by Norwegian Air Ambulance, including a mix of H135 and H145 aircraft.
“The Foundation has always been at the forefront of medical innovation, most recently with dedicated research to integrate a CT scanner into a five-bladed H145 helicopter,” said Balkiz Sarihan, head of urban air mobility at Airbus. “We’re looking forward to working with it as a strategic partner to further develop the exact missions where our eVTOL’s capabilities would contribute to protecting citizens and making sure they can access effective healthcare in Norway.”
Leif Olestad, who is the accountable manager for emergency medical operator Norsk Luftambulanse, told reporters at a briefing on the show floor that he and his colleagues want to identify ways to “deliver improvements to the rescue chain” that go beyond what helicopters achieve now. Explaining how Norway’s distinct and rugged geography requires versatile forms of air mobility to serve a mix of urban and rural communities separated by mountains and fjords, Olestad said new applications of advanced technology are the best response. “We don’t know yet what this could look like, but building the use cases for eVTOLs is a good first step,” he said. “We need optimism, realism, and knowledge.”
The project will consider aspects of the anticipated ecosystem for eVTOL services, including infrastructure, traffic management, and energy sourcing and distribution. Airbus has indicated that it could extend the work to other countries in the Nordic region.
“Complementarity is a key driver in this endeavor,” commented Hans-Morten Lossius, the Foundation’s secretary general. “Helicopters remain essential to support first responders, for instance by transporting medical specialists to accident scenes or organs from one medical site to another.”