Airbus Helicopters, June 08, 2018 - Helicopter emergency medical services are gaining momentum around the world, particularly in Asia, where a mix of airspace regulations, infrastructure, and funding created barriers to the sector’s growth.
Several breakthroughs are opening the door to this critical industry.
Suffer an accident, get hurt while far from home . . . we all want our route to emergency care to be fast. In Asia, a variety of actors are working hard to make this the case. The need for helicopter EMS (HEMS) is there.
In Europe and the US, an average of two helicopters per million people is considered adequate. . By this calculation China, with a population of 1.4 billion and just a handful of dedicated HEMS aircraft, could require 700 helicopters; India, with a slightly smaller population, is projected to require close to the same.
“The key challenge to develop our activity in EMS in Asia is to convince our operators of the viability of their business model.”, Pierre André, Airbus Helicopters Head of Sales Southeast Asia
Challenges notwithstanding, the region’s HEMS industry is gaining momentum. In Asia Pacific at the end of 2015, 202 helicopters flew dedicated EMS missions, triple the number just a decade earlier*. In Japan, some 20,000 HEMS missions were flown in 2013; by 2016, it had reached 25,000 and continues to grow.
BHS in Thailand has been operating medical flights since 2007 with an H145. Becoming the first operator in Southeast Asia to receive an EMS-configured H145 means BHS can perform night flights and those needing IFR clearance. "BHS has increased its capital to cover the investments in our new fleet and equipment, based on our confidence of future prospects.", Kirati Kraipasit, Managing Director of BHS. “We expect to see our company placed in a more vital role of the healthcare business,”
In China, seeing its operations expand, Beijing 999 signed for an H145 in 2017 to complement its fleet of two H135s and one H145. The H145 is the first of its kind to be configured with a rescue hoist, which will be used for mountain rescues during the 2022 Olympics in Beijing. In Shandong province, China’s second-most populous province, HEMS999 (a subsidiary of MIT Group) operates six H130 helicopters against a growing need for highway accident EMS. "The regulation on low altitude air traffic in China is loosening. I believe the cooperation with Airbus Helicopters will benefit the people and allow us to save more lives.", Chongyue Jia, Head of Air Medical Rescue Beijing 999
India’s first dedicated HEMS operations began in 2017 with Aviators Air Rescue, which has been operating three EMS-equipped H130s, and will shortly receive an H135. “A recent event highlighted the value of having helicopters for EMS missions,” says Arun Sharma, Managing Director, Aviators Air Rescue. “We got a call to move a heart from one hospital to another, an intercity flight, which was done for the first time in Bangalore. It took only seven minutes to move that heart from one place to another, while by ambulance it would have taken them an hour and a half in the city during peak hours.”