DRF Luftrettung, September 09, 2020 - During the Covid-19 pandemic, DRF Luftrettung acquired special isolation stretchers to transport highly infectious patients.
These stretchers, known as EpiShuttles, can now be fastened perfectly in the helicopter thanks to a special ground plate developed by the EASA Part 21 Design Organisation at DRF Luftrettung.
The new solution impresses with its simple handling and safety. It is referred to in the business as the Multifunction EMS Ground Plate and, with a load-bearing capacity of up to 300 kg, is currently one-of-a-kind on the market.
The corresponding STC (Supplemental Type Certificate) was recently issued by the EASA, meaning that the product is now ready for series production and can also be made available to external customers.
DRF Luftrettung will use the new plate, which is mounted on the floor of the helicopter, in its ten helicopters equipped with EpiShuttles. It has just been installed for the first time in the ‘Christoph 111’ helicopter stationed at Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden airport, which is primarily earmarked for the transport of Covid-19 patients during the pandemic.
The other DRF Luftrettung HEMS bases will follow. One major advantage is that the helicopter crews can fit the plate themselves in a very short time without the need for any tools and can fix the EpiShuttle onto it. This means that they can react quickly and flexibly to the many different situations encountered in air rescue. It will also be possible to use the plate for other transport systems in future, such as incubators.
EASA Part 21 Design Organisation as driver of innovation
The Federal Aviation Office (Luftfahrt-Bundesamt, LBA) had granted a temporary exception regulation for the alternative EpiShuttle mounting that has been used to date. As such, a new solution had to be developed that not only meets the requirements of the helicopter models used, but also allows faster and improved handling by the teams.
The Part 21 Design Organisation at DRF Luftrettung has been working at full speed over recent months to develop a prototype of the new plate. To ensure that the product meets the building specifications for the helicopter and legal regulations, the team conducted extensive functional tests and ultimately obtained the relevant approvals. The Supplemental Type Certificate from the EASA enables DRF Luftrettung to install the plate in its own fleet (BK 117 C2 and BK 117 D2). In addition, a Form 1 from the Federal Aviation Office confirms the plate’s basic suitability for aeronautical vehicles, paving the way for sale to external customers.
Providing patients with optimal emergency medical care and transporting them quickly and safely to the right hospital by air is the primary task of DRF Luftrettung: ‘We stand for advancement in emergency medical care. The new product from DRF Luftrettung is the best example for showing that we are able to develop innovative solutions that benefit patient safety in-house within a short time. We are proud of the fact that other aviation companies can also benefit from the expertise of our Design Organisation,’ states Dr Peter Huber, COO of DRF Luftrettung.
About DRF Luftrettung: The DRF Group with its headquarters in Filderstadt is one of the largest air rescue organisations in Europe. In 2019, the group carried out a total of 40,738 missions. The crews at 14 of the 35 HEMS bases in Germany, Austria and Liechtenstein are on standby 24/7, and eight HEMS bases provide helicopters with rescue winches.
The Austrian ARA Flugrettung with two HEMS bases was integrated into the DRF Group in 2001, and the Northern HeliCopter GmbH (NHC), which provides air and water rescue services, was acquired in 2019. Furthermore, DRF Luftrettung is also a member of the AP3 Luftrettung network with its HEMS bases in Balzers/Liechtenstein. In addition, DRF Luftrettung also brings back patients from abroad with its own ambulance aircraft.
For the continuous expansion of its vitally important tasks, the non-profit air rescue organisation depends on financial support. Today, DRF e.V. is already supported by well over 400,000 sponsors.