First it was the flying doctor coming to the aid of needy folk in remote countries.

Now there's an entire medical team, complete with a flying hospital, running regular mercy missions all over the globe.

The Flying Hospital - a converted Lockheed L1011-50 - is the largest, fully-equipped, self-contained airborne hospital ever built.

It was launched 12 months ago after a year-long reconfiguration costing more than $25 million.

The aircraft carries a precious cargo on its two decks, including a surgical suite with three operating tables, examination areas, dental suites, a nursing station, an educational facility and sterilisation station.

The aircraft is built with the latest medical technology, providing same-day out-patient surgical procedures. Services range from the simplest of health screenings to complex surgery.

Already the privately-owned and funded Flying Hospital has proved successful in the Latin American countries of El Salvador and Panama, and in the Ukraine. Now operators want to extend their lifeline link by forging special partnerships here at Le Bourget.

Sharon Gabriel, the Flying Hospital's director of Public Relations, says: "We would like to work alongside governments, private foundations and large corporations which genuinely want to show a commitment to those people suffering in areas that have little or no access to medicine.

"By working together with sponsors, we could spearhead a medical mission to help thousands of people within the space of three weeks."

"After the Paris Airshow, we are flying on to Kazakhstan for another medical mission in which we hope to provide vital care for orphans, children and the elderly."

Source: Flight Daily News