The Aerospace Industrial Development Co (AIDC) and Tungs’ Taichung MetroHarbor Hospital signed a contract on Thursday to provide medical emergency air transportation services for Taiwanese abroad.
Under the contract, AIDC will fly Taiwanese patients back home on its Astra SPX planes, which have been configured as air ambulances, while MetroHarbor hospital will provide emergency staff and care en route to the patient’s hospital of choice.
The Astra aircraft have a range of 2,500 nautical miles (4,630km), allowing nonstop flights between Taipei and areas such as Chengdu, Ulan Bator, Hokkaido, Jakarta and Guam.
AIDC in May obtained a permit from the Civil Aeronautics Administration to operate emergency medical assistance flights and has since airlifted patients from Macau, Shanghai and Xian in China.
Its new cooperative service is expected to be cheaper, quicker and cover a wider area than those currently offered by Sunrise Airlines and Executive Aviation Taiwan Corp in collaboration with MetroHarbor hospital.
The two planes operated by Sunrise Airlines and Executive Aviation have a range of only 1,200 nautical miles, which means they can fly nonstop to Chinese coastal cities such as Shanghai, but not to Beijing or Tianjin in the north, said Lu Li-hua, head of the hospital’s emergency center, who is also in charge of the overseas emergency medical assistance project.
Attempts to reach places further away will require refueling stops, which will add to the cost by about NT$100,000 (US$3,330) for each trip and take longer to reach a hospital, Lu said.
The medevac contract was signed by MetroHarbor hospital head Chang Tzu-ming (張子明) and AIDC president Butch Hsu (徐延年) on the opening day of this year’s Taipei Aerospace and Defense Technology Exhibition, which is being held until tomorrow.