Airbus Helicopters has announced a strategic partnership with the Norwegian Air Ambulance Foundation, aimed at developing the CityAirbus NextGen electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft for potential future deployment on medical services missions across Norway.
The two sides will measure the “added value” of eVTOL aircraft for “a selection of medical use cases” across the Scandinavian country, and will integrate the specific operational requirements into the under-development CityAirbus NextGen’s configuration, says the airframer.
In a 15 February media briefing, Balkiz Sarihan, head of urban air mobility at Airbus, said that she saw medical services as a key early use case for the eVTOL aircraft because they provide a societal benefit that could accelerate wider acceptance of the technology.
CityAirbus NextGen is scheduled to make its first flight – without a pilot on board – in 2024.
Through their partnership, Airbus Helicopters and the Norwegian Air Ambulance Foundation will look at how eVTOL aircraft could potentially reduce emergency response times in Norway. The aim is for eVTOLs to operate alongside helicopters, say the partners. The Norwegian Air Ambulance Foundation operates a mixed fleet of the manufacturer’s H135 and H145 light-twins.
“Complementarity is a key driver in this endeavour: helicopters remain essential to perform EMS missions, whilst eVTOLs can bring additional capabilities to support first responders, for instance by transporting medical specialists to accident scenes or organs from one medical site to another,” says Hans-Morten Lossius, secretary general of the Norwegian Air Ambulance Foundation.
The first step towards creating a medical eVTOL ecosystem in Norway, says Airbus, will be to evaluate the efficiency of the country’s existing emergency medical system, and ascertain where eVTOL aircraft could add value.