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Rotorcraft Asia 2019: Bucher to the rescue

17th April 2019 - 08:00 GMT | by Gordon Arthur in Singapore

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Bucher is excited about the possibilities that the Chinese market presents for the emergency medical systems that it installs in Airbus Helicopters platforms. 

EMS is starting to take off in China, and Rolf Kraus, director of sales and programmes at Bucher, told Shephard that seven H135 helicopters outfitted with its medical equipment have been delivered to a Qingdao-based consortium to date. 

With 100 aircraft under contract via a 2016 framework agreement, this exemplifies the scale of opportunities that exist in the Chinese market. The first HEMS aircraft was handed over last September. 

With China setting up a final assembly facility for 95 of these H135s, Bucher will install its medical equipment directly onto these helicopters on that Qingdao line. 

Kraus noted that government backing is critical for the creation of HEMS services in places like China, as a helicopter needs a complete ecosystem of support from hospitals, aviation regulators, insurance companies and emergency networks, for instance. 

Bucher’s major market is Europe, but it believes Asia has the greatest potential for growth. However, for places like China there are type certificates and supplemental type certificates that need to be obtained, and this can be a lengthy process. China has certified Bucher’s H135 medical equipment, but the process for the H145 has not yet begun. 

Bucher has deliberately focused on supplying medical interiors for only Airbus platforms, with the European OEM being seen as the market leader in the HEMS field. Bucher offers equipment for both the H135 and H145 aircraft. 

Currently the latter model is slightly more popular as an air ambulance platform since it offers more space and flexibility, although in Asia it is the H135 that is more common. 

All of Bucher’s equipment is modular, allowing helicopters to be rapidly reconfigured within minutes for mountain rescue, hospital transfer or primary rescue missions, for example. The Swiss company highlights that its equipment is lightweight, integrated, customised, efficient and safe. 

Bucher makes all the installations, including roll-in modular stretchers and even a side-loading stretcher. The roll-in stretcher means that medical personnel do not need to strain themselves loading/unloading patients. While a single stretcher is the most common configuration aboard EMS helicopters, both the H135 and H145 can carry up to two patients. There is also a roof mounted rail system to which a ventilator can be attached. 

Bucher can fit emergency equipment aboard helicopters either directly on the Airbus production line, or it can go to a client’s facility anywhere in the world to retrofit equipment. 

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