Last December, one of the world’s leading aircraft producers, Airbus, hosted its annual Airbus Summit in Toulouse and Munich. Focusing on sustainability and the future of transportation, it also gave a glimpse of the productive cooperation that emerges between the company and Estonia.
On the second day, the Summit highlighted LifeSaver, a framework co-developed by Airbus and International SOS. This solution aims at optimising emergency healthcare systems through innovation and improvements across the rescue chain. The first implementation of the LifeSaver programme is set to take place in Estonia.
LifeSaver in Estonia is not limited to technology. It will include operating procedures, accreditation standards, medical guidelines, regulations and more to ensure that individual solutions are operationally viable and deliver clear benefits such as better patient outcomes, greater efficiency and/or lower environmental footprint.
“The goal is to identify and create innovative solutions not only for Estonia, but also for other countries so as to leverage our local capabilities and maximize the export opportunities of Estonian companies involved in the development of solutions,” said Joonas Vänto, Director of Invest Estonia.
Among the potential tools mobilised in next-generation medical services, Airbus’ fully-electric aircraft prototype CityAirbus NextGen, will target an operational range of 80 kilometres and a cruise speed of 120 km/h, capable of carrying three passengers and a pilot. Indeed, even before their potential deployment, eVTOL (electric vertical take-off and landing) aircraft is an effective catalyst for innovation within this life-saving ecosystem.
In Estonia, the program will evaluate the country’s current emergency medical system and identify the most important use cases. These may include reducing response time, providing essential medical care to low-population-density areas, or optimizing the overall medical logistics network.
“We aim to use innovation for better patient outcomes and direct social benefits to Estonian people. We also want to showcase what Estonia has to offer in terms of innovation – if the new technology works in such a mission-critical environment as EMS, it can work everywhere”, said Joonas Vänto. He also pointed to the already widespread use of innovation in the Estonian medical sector.
For example, X-Road governmental infrastructure provides the secure movement of digital data (including health records) and can be used to manage complex systems in a better way. Estonian authorities are collaborating with industry stakeholders at a national level to create an innovative legislative framework that enables new technologies and solutions to be tested, implemented, and market-ready very quickly.
“The capability and unique value proposition of a helicopter in medical services missions are irreplaceable. eVTOLs with zero-emission flights, full electrification and a lower noise profile have the potential to enable new missions and complement the helicopters in supporting the ever-evolving medical services. Helicopters and eVTOLs will both be part of medical ecosystems and work hand in hand”, said Balkiz Sarihan, Head of UAM Strategy Execution & Partnerships at Airbus.
The ultimate objective will be to design a blend of sea, ground and airborne means of transport to adapt the different combinations to local requirements.
Ready for takeoff
“We are looking forward to using all these capabilities that we can find in Estonia and bringing them to life through this implementation of LifeSaver”, said Hubertus Groepper, LifeSaver Programme Manager.
This will be a research-heavy program that will pave the way for the integration of innovative ground, sea and air-borne means of transportation and technologies around the world to improve medical services ecosystems. With the development of clean energy opportunities, reduction of noise and pollution, the solution presents great new opportunities for the future of transportation. With a lot of remote areas, 2,000 islands and unmatched digital capabilities, Estonia is a perfect testing site.
Estonia bets big on the future of transportation, with numerous projects centred around electric vehicles, fuel cells and even hydrogen-powered systems. The new cooperation with Airbus is aimed to deliver practical results, too, as said previously by one of the project initiators Asso Uibo, Invest Estonia’s Director of Regional Business Development in South Estonia.
“Our common ambition is to take a big step forward from the first studies to assess what could be improved in the existing medical services ecosystem in Estonia, to the wider development of the LifeSaver solution as a full-scale integration phase, where, for example, eVTOLs and drones are a natural part of the emergency medical service”, he emphasized.
The launch of the LifeSaver programme is expected in the first half of 2023.
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