Textron Aviation (Booth V19) and Babcock International are showcasing the first midsize Cessna Citation Latitude configured for air ambulance operations this week at EBACE 2019. The special mission business jet on static display (SD405) is part of an 11-aircraft order by Babcock Scandinavian Air Ambulance that Textron announced in October 2017.
The order supports Babcock’s winning contract bid with Air Ambulance Services of Norway to provide air ambulance support across the country using the Latitude and 10 Beechcraft King Air 250s that were also configured as air ambulances. It also deepens a relationship with UK-based Babcock, an engineering services company that provides or operates air ambulances and medical crews at 140 bases in nine countries.
“We are seeing that this partnership with Textron still has a long way to grow and to develop in providing similar services in what we’re doing now in Norway,” Babcock Spain CEO Angel Rodero told AIN while visiting Textron Aviation in Wichita on March 29 to take delivery of the last King Air 250 for the Norway contract. “Emergency medical services is a growing business in all continents, and our ambition is to grow in that sector. We also have opportunities in North America as we speak.”
Babcock’s relationship with Textron began through its military aviation business, Rodero noted, and expanded when it acquired Avincis in 2014, which added EMS, aerial firefighting, search and rescue, and oil and gas transportation services to Babcock’s business. “One of the factors that sets Babcock apart from its competitors is the flexibility to adapt to the client’s needs, and that’s where, again, our partnership with Textron has proven to be mutually beneficial because Textron has a similar attitude towards customer satisfaction,” he said.
Ready for Air Medical Ops
Bob Gibbs, Textron Aviation’s v-p of special missions, told AIN that Babcock selected the Latitude because part of the Norway contract called for specific speeds and range that only a jet could deliver. “There were a lot of very specific requirements ranging from the ability to start from a dark cockpit to ready to taxi in two minutes,” he explained. “I mean there were little nuances like that that the Latitude was the best fit for.” The jet’s other attributes for air ambulance operations are its steep approach capability, short runway performance, and low cabin altitude.
The Latitude’s door was widened on the production line to accommodate a stretcher, in addition to other changes to the airframe, Gibbs said. Its interior configuration was advised by a team of health professionals. “They brought the expertise from the operational side, not only aviation operations but medical operations as well, and worked closely with the Norwegian health authorities and their doctors and their experts to really optimize for the mission,” Gibbs added.
Textron Aviation hopes the first example of an EMS-equipped Latitude resonates with other European operators attending the show. “The big draw for us at EBACE is you’ve got an aircraft with continental range that you can buy factory equipped for an air ambulance,” Gibbs said. “That’s really the big difference—it’s supported by our engineering and product support afterward and ready to go. The customer doesn’t have to worry about inventing anything.”