During the Covid-19 pandemic, DRF Luftrettung acquired EpiShuttles isolation stretchers to transport highly infectious patients. These stretchers 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, known as the Multifunction EMS Ground Plate, 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.
New ground plate can be adapted for future needs
DRF Luftrettung will use the new plate, which is mounted on the floor of the helicopter, in its 10 EpiShuttle-equipped aircraft. It has been installed in ‘Christoph 111’, which is stationed at Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden Airport, and has been used extensively for transporting Covid-19 patients.
The other DRF Luftrettung HEMS bases will follow. The operator explained: “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 certification to enhance market availability
The German Federal Aviation Office (Luftfahrt-Bundesamt, LBA) had granted a temporary exception regulation for the alternative EpiShuttle mounting that had been used up until now by DRF Luftrettung. However, a new solution had to be developed that not only met the requirements of the helicopter models used, but also allowed for faster and improved handling by the teams.
DRF Luftrettung’s Part 21 Design Organisation has been working hard 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.
The EpiShuttle is one of several portable medical isolation units that air medical operators have been using during the pandemic – find out more about the different options in recent AirMed&Rescue articles.