The COVID-19 pandemic has led to changes in both customer demand and working conditions or Bombardier.
Steve Patrick, Vice President of Specialised Aircraft Division for the company explained that the challenging circumstances caused by COVID-19 have led to different demands from customers. He said: “Customers are perhaps seeing a need for the ability to repatriate colleagues or patients under some very trying circumstances. There’s definitely a response in the need for medical evacuation and patient transportation. So that’s one of the things that’s been prevalent for us.”
As well as having an impact on the customers’ needs and requirements, Bombardier’s workforce has also had to adapt to ensure their workplace can operate in line with social distancing guidelines.
Working remotely to find customer solutions
“All of the Bombardier team have been able to carry on working remotely telecommuting from the engineering team, said Patrick. “But we have been able to also carry on modifying aircraft delivered to our customers, using all the social distancing protocols, sterilisation of equipment, etc. So definitely impacts our operations, but we’re able to keep going, a definite interest from customers and we’re working to help them find solutions.”
The company is seeing more demand for conversions of aircraft to enable time critical patient care. Although customers with a standard VIP aircraft may not need a permanent medevac solution. Patrick said the company could transform into a medevac configuration within hours.
It all comes down to speed and performance
Patrick said the key attributes of a medevac aircraft include reliability and global support and maintenance capabilities: “It comes down to speed and performance. We’re obviously trying to move patients from an origin to a destination quickly. So when we start looking at the Bombardier jet portfolio, all of our aircraft are capable of cruising above point eight mark. We’ve got ranges from the Learjet at 2,000 miles all the way through the Global family to be on 7,000 miles.”
“So that gets gives us the ability to move patients quickly over long distances. But there’s also the versatility aspect of being able to get the patient to where they need to go to. So now you start to think about things like Steep approach capability, the ability to bring a patient directly into, let’s say, central London, or Legano, or somewhere like that.”
Cabins have the space for both patients, medical staff and equipment including intensive care units.
The cabin also includes a HEPA filtered air system and doors wide enough for patients to be loaded through them. Patrick continues: “Many of our patients would be in stretchers, so they’re not able to just walk up the cabin stairs. We have patient loading that can elevate them to the floor level and then translate them into the aircraft. So all of that makes a good medevac aircraft. And maybe the step beyond that is to have it any convertible configuration.”
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