Loganair has converted one of its aircraft into a temporary air ambulance, and is working to turn over one of its larger aircraft to the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS).
The regional carrier, which stepped in last month to cover some of the routes lost following the collapse of Flybe, said it was “working closely” with SAS to increase air ambulance capability owing to the “unprecedented challenges” arising from the coronavirus pandemic.
Loganair has grounded around half its fleet as flight demand has fallen in recent weeks, but is now working to put several of its aircraft to good use – and the new air ambulances are expected to be operational by Friday (3 April).
One of its Twin Otter aircraft has been converted, allowing it to carry Epishuttle isolation pods to ensure Covid-19 patients can be safely conveyed by air.
It comes after Scotland’s cabinet secretary for health, Jeane Freeman, confirmed more pods were needed and would be brought into service soon.
Loganair is now working to convert one of its larger Saab 340 aircraft, which can operate to all Highlands and Islands airports with the exception of Barra, into an air ambulance. Barra will be served by the Twin Otter.
The aircraft will be able to carry two Epishuttle pods along with the necessary accompanying medical teams. Loganair expects the aircraft to enter service for SAS within a week.
Based at Glasgow airport, the aircraft will be able to operate throughout Scotland and will be flown by Loganair pilots, who have been briefed on their deployment.
Work at Glasgow has been ongoing since the weekend to ensure the aircraft are up to “full mission readiness” from Friday (3 April).
“The team effort to make this happen, moving from a concept to an operational solution in just a week, has been absolutely incredible,” said Loganair chief executive Jonathan Hinkles.
“Between the SAS and Loganair teams, the concept, testing and training has all taken place, and we’re also grateful for the support from the Civil Aviation Authority in progressing this project.
“Although the circumstances under which all of this work has been undertaken are ones that we’d never have wished to see, I’m heartened [by] the effort which has gone into this – [it] is truly admirable.
“We will support the Scottish Ambulance Service, the NHS and the island communities who rely on Loganair for their lifeline air services if and when our assistance is needed.”