Air Ambulance Aircraft Connectivity Improves In transit Patient Care

Network Innovations Aircraft Connectivity Solution improves patient care enabling constant contact between Medical Crew and Hospital.

Continual advances in medical research now allowpatient treatment that just a few years ago that would have been impossible. These treatments are often very specialized and can only be performed at a limited number of very specialized hospitals. This has resulted in an increase in the transfer of patients to specialist treatment by aeromedical helicopter or fixed wing aircraft.

Patients requiring specialist treatment will often rely on the use of advanced Life Support equipment. Life Support Equipment are connected devices and will require constant connectivity during flight transmitting vital patient data to the specialist doctors at the receiving hospital. In-flight, medical crews need access to patient records and to consult with the doctors on ground during flight. Air Ambulance Aircraft, both fixed and rotor wing, are usually smaller size aircraft requiring any solution to have low-weight and small size terminals along with reliable, secure and affordable service.

Network Innovations designed an integrated solution for Voice, PTT, Messaging, Tracking and Data Connectivity. The solution is composed of three main systems, a hybrid SATCOM and Cellular terminal, a SATCOM broadband data system and a Wi-Fi Access Point that provides Least Cost IP Routing functionality.

The hybrid SATCOM and Cellular terminal enables Iridium satellite Push-to-Talk (PTT), Voice Telephony and Short Message Service (SMS) allowing the aircraft to communicate with any land-based telephone from both cockpit and cabin. The terminal also integrates a cellular 4G/LTE modem to provide a terrestrial data-connection when in range. GPS position reports are sent to a tracking system via the cellular-data connection or the Iridium satellite network when cellular is unavailable.  An on-board terminal controller allows calls/messages to be made and received in both the cockpit and cabin channeling voice calls through the aircraft’s intercom system and headsets.   Calls and messages can be received and placed from either the cockpit or the cabin.  Data-transfer is achieved using Iridium’s Certus based SATCOM providing broadband satellite data operating on the NEXT satellite constellation.  Being able to  provide data-connectivity for portable medical devices, laptops, smartphones and tablets is achievable with a delivered over Wi-Fi with least-cost routing functionality. The SATCOM Terminal choice using the Iridium’s Low Earth Orbit network allows for use of small form factor terminals and antennas. The result is a lightweight, always-available SATCOM system adding less than 10 Kilos to the aircraft weight.

Network Innovations’ Integrated system for Voice, PTT, Messaging, Tracking and Data Connectivity provides the customer with a fully connected aircraft encompassing reliable voice and high-speed data communication that can be used in all phases of flight, altitudes, and physical locations.

During all flight modes, the solution provides Life Support Equipment connectivity transmitting vital patient data to the specialist doctors at the receiving hospital. This enables doctors to both monitor and provide instructions to the aeromedical personnel for onboard care. Patient records are fully up-to-date as medical personnel are able to access and update records in flight ensuring that doctors receiving the patient information immediately available and are not waiting for a portable device to connect/synchronize to a terrestrial network upon landing. Onsite crew training and maintenance staff along with 24/7 support ensures a communications system that is always ready to support the team in saving lives.