Tyrol Air Ambulance (TAA) is a traditional company having been in the business for more than 40 years, do you see that as a benefit?
It is certainly a benefit, but it can also be a disadvantage. Over the years, TAA has become one of the major players in the air ambulance business, based in the center of Europe. We have very experienced flight doctors and nurses as well as assessment doctors and a flight operation standard comparable to a large airline. Therefore, we can accept very critical patients and we meet the requirements to operate into airports such as Kathmandu, Alanya or Reggio Calabria. But, due to this experience, and as the wellbeing and safety of the patient during the transport comes first, we occasionally refuse flights. Sometimes, this is not understood and accepted by our customers and they give the flight to competitors, taking a risk for mainly commercial reasons.
TAA is known for its very high standards. Can you give some details, such as the equipment onboard your aircraft?
Our medical interiors were specially designed for our needs by Air Ambulance Technology. It is certainly a high-end product compared to the equipment many competitors use. Everything is well organized; there is enough stowage space. All medical devices are properly stowed; therefore, there is not any harm for the patients. All the important devices are redundant. We have up to 8,000 liters of oxygen onboard and oxygen bottles can be exchanged during the flight. We use gel mats for our patients as a standard in order to prevent a decubitus. The med crews get ongoing training, even for evacuation, which is required due to Austrian regulations. We do not use any freelance pilots.
Your Gulfstream 100 (G100) is a rather unique aircraft, especially in Europe. What is your experience of it, and what are its advantages?
You are right, we are the only G100 operator in Europe and the aircraft has some unique features. But due to our experienced flight crews and having our own maintenance, we perfectly know the aircraft. It has become a very reliable aircraft; we were even able to extend the C-Check intervals, which are all done in-house. The aircraft has a cabin height of 1.75m and an APU for cooling and heating on ground, which is an important feature for the patients. The aircraft is fast and can fly nonstop Canary Islands to Scandinavia or from Southern Egypt to Great Britain, to mention two examples. They are all ADS-B out (Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast) equipped.
The world is suffering from the Corona crisis. Is TAA prepared to accept Covid-19 infected patients?
TAA invested in two state-of-the-art isolation chambers for the safe transport of Covid-19 patients, adopted for our aircraft types. They are available for both the Citation Bravo and the G100 and are, therefore, a cost-effective alternative to bigger aircraft. In the isolation chamber, we can also accept intensive care patients and even the incubator we use for pediatric transports in our successful cooperation with Pediatric Air Ambulance. That means we are well prepared for the summer season as we expect an increasing demand for Covid-19 infected patients.
Do you offer other services besides the air ambulance operation?
TAA also operates a medical assistance alarm center, which is an independent business unit. Services are addressed to customers that have patients in the Alpine region, and also to medical assistance companies and insurance companies in the Alpine region that wish to outsource their medical travel services.