Helicopter Repurposed for COVID-19 Operations

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RUAG MRO Switzerland has recently modified the EC 635 helicopter model for COVID-19 patients. For this time-sensitive project, RUAG MRO Switzerland, Armasuisse and the Air Force are working together on suitable solutions for protecting both pilots and patients to the greatest possible extent. Two helicopters have already been modified and are ready for use by the Air Force.

The EC 635 helicopter model is normally used by the Swiss Army for educational and training purposes. Due to its large dimensions, however, it is also suitable for use as a mission aircraft, and it is the most frequently used helicopter for emergency services worldwide. For the Swiss Army too, it is used for individual and patient transport, and for this purpose is equipped with standard materials for medical care.

Due to the current situation brought about by coronavirus (COVID-19), the Swiss Air Force has commissioned RUAG MRO Switzerland to specifically modify the infrastructure of this helicopter type for the transport of COVID-19 patients. On one hand, a spatial separation of the cockpit from the cabin is necessary in order to protect pilots from the disease to the greatest extent possible, ensuring their operational capability for further flights. On the other hand, a suitable method for disinfecting the entire helicopter is needed. Last but not least, the different medical devices required by COVID-19 patients have to be inspected for any possible interference-generating signals, and taken into consideration.

RUAG MRO Switzerland has also ensured that the necessary production mechanisms are in place for the short-term modification of further EC 635-type helicopters.

Through close collaboration between the MRO company and its partners, Armasuisse and the Air Force, it has been possible to make implementable solutions available within a very short time frame. 

“We are moving closer together, and not due to the on-going decoupling process alone. These extraordinary situations in particular demonstrate mutual trust and outstanding collaboration. In this way, it is possible for us to elaborate effective solutions together in order to aid those who are dependent upon our help”, says Andreas Baumann, General Manager of Helicopters, RUAG MRO Switzerland.