Aviation News Journal
Aeromedical Evacuation Day
Text and photography by Kris Christiaens
On 7 October 2023, the European Air Transport Command (EATC) organized the first aeromedical evacuation (AE) day.
This event gathered 80 medical experts from the seven EATC member nations, as well as from the US, Denmark, and multinational entities such as AIRCOM, Joint Force Command Brunssum, EUMS, EDA, Multinational Medical Coordination Center/European Medical Command (MMCC/EMC), and MCCE. The premiere Aeromedical Evacuation Day offered an insight into EATC’s aeromedical evacuation portfolio, as well as its extensive aeromedical evacuation expertise.
Medical experts from EATC, along with those from Joint Force Command Brunssum, the EUMS, and the MMCC/EMC, introduced their operational AE procedures and challenges. For this first edition, medical experts and other military personnel had the opportunity to explore several aircraft. These included an Airbus A330 MRTT of the Royal Netherlands Air Force, a Lockheed Martin C-130J Super Hercules of the Italian Air Force, a Sikorsky CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopter of the German Air Force, an Airbus A330 MRTT Phénix of the French Air Force, an Airbus A400M of the German Air Force, and a Bombardier CL-600 Challenger 605 of Luxembourg Air Rescue, all equipped with special medical equipment.
Bombardier CL-600 Challenger 605
EATC, a Centre of Expertise in Aeromedical Evacuation
Offering a high standard of medical care in operations and ensuring the swift return of patients when needed is paramount. The aeromedical evacuation (AE) of patients requires in-depth medical expertise, combined with proficient knowledge of aviation-related factors for aeromedical transport. This is why the European Air Transport Command (EATC) integrated a professional team of flight surgeons and flight nurses into the operational division, creating the Aeromedical Evacuation Control Centre (AECC). Today, AECC is widely recognized as a centre of expertise for Aeromedical Evacuation, reflecting on a decade of experience. AECC also strives for the harmonization of concepts, alignment of medical equipment, and cross-airworthiness certification. This effort facilitates increasing possibilities in a multilateral approach for patient transportation, thereby maximizing the use of EATC on a daily basis.
Italian Air Force C-130J
EATC and AECC strive to offer efficient AE missions. Any decision by AECC is closely coordinated with the requesting nation’s National Patient Evacuation Coordination Centre. These centres are EATC’s single national points of contact, responsible for the medical evacuation of personnel within the national military systems. EATC has developed a specific process to execute AE missions. Through this process, the AECC team evaluates the medical condition of the patient and selects the most suitable transportation asset from EATC‘s portfolio. Working alongside EATC's tasking experts, AECC plans the complete evacuation mission and supervises all processes, in concert with EATC’s Mission Control Centre, until the mission's successful completion.
German Air Force A400M
The Aeromedical Evacuation Portfolio
The European Air Transport Command (EATC) holds operational authority over the air mobility assets of its member nations, particularly for aeromedical evacuation (AE) missions. For these missions, member nations not only provide AE crew but also supply the necessary adapted AE equipment. This arrangement ensures that EATC has access to a comprehensive portfolio of strategic and tactical assets for planning and executing AE missions. The portfolio includes dedicated AE assets that are ready to deploy within hours. For instance, Luxembourg’s contracted civilian assets are on a 2-hour alert, Germany's A400M is on a 12-hour alert, and the Multinational MRTT Unit’s (MMU) A330 MRTT is on a 24-hour alert.
Airbus A330 MRTT
Additionally, EATC's member nations offer air mobility assets that can be repurposed for AE missions. For example, Italy provides assets that can be equipped with special air transport isolators for the safe transport of contagious patients. Similarly, the Dutch C-130H can function as a “flying intensive care unit,” offering extensive medical treatment for patients. The AECC manages the aeromedical evacuation of patients on a 24/7/365 basis from locations all around the world. This multinational team comprises flight surgeons and flight nurses, all of whom possess extensive experience and expertise in aeromedical transports.