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A-380: A Good Platform For A Hospital In The Sky?  
User currently offlinegegtim From United States of America, joined Aug 2010, 67 posts, RR: 0
Posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 9562 times:

Has the A-380 been considered as a medical evacuation aircraft? With all of the horrific earthquakes and tropical storms that occur in underdeveloped parts of the world I would think that it would make a wonderful platform for such a thing. Perhaps placing it under the United Nations it could be a globaly funded project. That airplane would be a hospital in the sky!

Tim

24 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineBreninTW From Taiwan, joined Jul 2006, 1705 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 9518 times:

Military aircraft remain better options for the simple reason that they need a lot less infrastructure.

You'd need an enormous amount of infrastructure to load the evacuees onto an A380 -- infrastructure that is normally damaged in natural disasters.

Military aircraft are designed to be largely self-supporting, so they don't need the infrastructure. Add to that the fact that many military aircraft can operate from rough landing strips and you have a machine that is much better equipped to do the job than an A380 would be.



I'm tired of the A vs. B sniping. Neither make planes that shed wings randomly!
User currently offlineWildcatYXU From Canada, joined May 2006, 2643 posts, RR: 5
Reply 2, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 9463 times:

I'm afraid it would be too expensive for this purpose. And don't think it would be necessary - you can simply evacuate the people and treat them elsewhere. Even the best known flying hospital only works as a hospital on the ground. Everything is packed for the flights.
It's a DC 10 donated by FedEx (soon to be replaced by a FedEx MD 10) - the Orbis flying eye hospital.



[Edited 2012-03-15 19:17:26]

User currently offlineDocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 20200 posts, RR: 59
Reply 3, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 9451 times:

The A380 would make a fantastic mobile treatment center, but not a good evacuation system. It's too big, too infrastructure-dependent, and when you're dealing with major disasters (tsunami, earthquake, hurricane, Superfly farts), you will have hundreds of thousands to millions of victims to handle. Where are you going to evacuate that many people to? With how many planes?

The other issue you have is getting the patients aboard. Many of them will be unable to walk and the main door to the A380 is high off the ground. Even if you convert the cargo bay a-la Air Force One, you still have to lift bedbound people off the ground. You'd have to install some sort of elevator that extends out of the underbelly, which is doable, but very $pen$ive.

Which leads into the economic aspect. The A380 is fantastically expensive, although it has wonderfully low operating costs. Flying hospitals get very little flight utilization, so while the A380's costs per ASM (or whatever the flying hospital equivalent would be) are rock-bottom low, the cost of ownership at something like a quarter of a billion dollars would be prohibitive. When you're talking about a not-for-profit venture, that's an important issue.

It would make much more sense to buy an old military cargo plane, like a C5-A. Patients could be rolled aboard on the cargo ramp, and there's plenty of floor space. There could even be an interior mod to make it a two-deck interior, I'd wager. It can land on semi-prepared airfields, which is important in disaster areas. Yes, it would guzzle fuel, but it would not be making flights every day. It would arrive somewhere, stay a few weeks, then move on. Maybe 15 flights per year or so. Although the cost per ASM-equivalent is high for such an aircraft, the utilization is so low that it would work out to be far less expensive in the end.


User currently offlinetonystan From Ireland, joined Jan 2006, 1445 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 9381 times:

Not to mention the fact that by and large only a handful of airports worldwide have runways and taxiways capable of handling even an empty A380!!!!


My views are my own and do not reflect any other person or organisation.
User currently offlineC680 From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 588 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 8611 times:

DC-10s have been popular in the past for mobile surgery. Cheap, large, and can operate into lots of existing fields.

But now there is competition from the package delivery airlines (FedEx, UPS, DHL) who create more demand for these types of aircraft (inexpensive with a large floor plan / area)



My happy place is FL470 - what's yours?
User currently offlinebikerthai From United States of America, joined Apr 2010, 2170 posts, RR: 4
Reply 6, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 7409 times:

For medical evacuation, there are lots of planes out there already.

For emergency mobile hospital units, it's WAY cheaper to fabricate self contained operating rooms in a pallet (one or two of those cargo containers) that can be loaded on to C-17's or similar aircraft to be deployed. I'm sure there are examples of these already out there.

bt



Intelligent seeks knowledge. Enlightened seeks wisdom.
User currently offlineSemaex From Germany, joined exactly 5 years ago today! , 833 posts, RR: 2
Reply 7, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 5 days ago) and read 7052 times:

Quoting WildcatYXU (Reply 2):
I'm afraid it would be too expensive for this purpose. And don't think it would be necessary - you can simply evacuate the people and treat them elsewhere. Even the best known flying hospital only works as a hospital on the ground. Everything is packed for the flights.

Yeah well, the MedEvac A310 MRTT is, in my opinion, on a different level of treating hospitalized people aboard. It is actually a flying hospital. Without a doubt it has the purpose of transporting people who are in need of such a transport to a hospital which is much better equipped, has more doctors, more facilities and so on and so forth, but if something very bad was going to happen while flying, the equipment on board would more than suffice.

However, on topic now, the MRTT MedEvac has an advantage that the A380 doesn't have, which is easy reconfiguratibility. Plus, as already mentioned, it doesn't need the infrastructure an A380 needs, which in the scenario the plane is in desperate need, most likely isn't available in the first place.



// You know you're an aviation enthusiast when you look at your neighbour's cars and think about fleet commonality.
User currently offlineDocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 20200 posts, RR: 59
Reply 8, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 5 days ago) and read 6789 times:

Quoting bikerthai (Reply 6):
For emergency mobile hospital units, it's WAY cheaper to fabricate self contained operating rooms in a pallet (one or two of those cargo containers) that can be loaded on to C-17's or similar aircraft to be deployed. I'm sure there are examples of these already out there.

Also a very good point.


User currently offlinereadytotaxi From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2006, 3338 posts, RR: 2
Reply 9, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 5 days ago) and read 6714 times:

Quoting BreninTW (Reply 1):
Military aircraft remain better options for the simple reason that they need a lot less infrastructure.

Time and time again the first thing needed after large natural disasters are large payload helicopters.
Often in short supply where these seem to happen.  



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User currently onlineAR385 From Mexico, joined Nov 2003, 6455 posts, RR: 32
Reply 10, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 5 days ago) and read 6539 times:
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Quoting gegtim (Thread starter):
With all of the horrific earthquakes and tropical storms that occur in underdeveloped parts of the world

You mean like Katrina? The Japanese earthquake?

As others have said, you would need a military, self sufficient transport. Tha A380 can´t make it to most airports except for those that are major hubs. Plus, access for the injured is a nightmare. Prices is quite high too. The Orbis planes throughout history have been donated, I believe.


User currently offlinebthebest From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2008, 518 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 6107 times:

Agree with all the other points above - but can you please edit the title to "A380" not "A-380" - its really bugging me! :P

User currently offlineKC135TopBoom From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12171 posts, RR: 51
Reply 12, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 6024 times:

About the only large evacuation operation I can think of using large commerical transports was Operation Solomon in 1991. But even that operation used LY B-747Fs (along with IDF C-130s) to evacuate some 14,500 Ethiopian Jews to Israel. This operation set a record for the number of passengers flown on a commerical aircraft at some 1100 passengers aboard, and one or two babies were born in flight.

The IDF provided all the support needed for the LY B-747Fs on the ground in ADD.


User currently offlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 25843 posts, RR: 22
Reply 13, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 5788 times:

Quoting AR385 (Reply 10):
Price is quite high too. The Orbis planes throughout history have been donated, I believe.

The current operational Orbis DC-10 is almost 42 years old, the 2nd DC-10 built, used in the certification program and kept by McDonnell-Douglas for about 7 years before being refurbished and delivered to Laker Airways in 1977. Later operated by ATA and defunct British charter carrier Cal Air (which became Novair) before going to Orbis in 1995.


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User currently offlinezippyjet From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 5501 posts, RR: 13
Reply 14, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 5527 times:

Quoting WildcatYXU (Reply 2):
I'm afraid it would be too expensive for this purpose. And don't think it would be necessary - you can simply evacuate the people and treat them elsewhere. Even the best known flying hospital only works as a hospital on the ground. Everything is packed for the flights.
It's a DC 10 donated by FedEx (soon to be replaced by a FedEx MD 10) - the Orbis flying eye hospital.



Not to get off topic but before the DC 10's Orbis used an ex UA DC-8 and as this picture shows still retains the curtains and Palomar swingin 60's seats. (reading light in seat replaced when UA installed audio controls in it's place.


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Back to the 380 would Airbus ever consider a military/transport version of their super jumbo?
Do some consider the C5 old technology?



I'm Zippyjet & I approve of this message!
User currently offlineKC135TopBoom From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12171 posts, RR: 51
Reply 15, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 5442 times:

Quoting zippyjet (Reply 14):
Back to the 380 would Airbus ever consider a military/transport version of their super jumbo?
Do some consider the C5 old technology?

The A-380 would not make a very good C-5 replacement aircraft. To make it so would just about be a newly designed aircraft with nose and tail cargo doors. It would also have to be lowered to the ground, like the C-5, C-17, An-124, etc. A t-tail would be best, but the An-124 has a conventional tail so I guess that would work. It may also have to operate from very rough runways, so new landing gear would be needed. Even the B-747-8F would be a poor C-5 substitute, and she's a designed dedicated freighter.


User currently offlinePHX787 From Japan, joined Mar 2012, 7851 posts, RR: 19
Reply 16, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 4 days 21 hours ago) and read 5134 times:

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 15):
The A-380 would not make a very good C-5 replacement aircraft

The C-5 however rides a bit lower to the ground than the A-380, and as mentioned above there will need to be some sort of lift system/some sort of conversion/whatever to load/unload this potential aircraft, which can run up in the $$$



我思うゆえに我あり。(Jap. 'I think, therefore I am.')
User currently offlineSemaex From Germany, joined exactly 5 years ago today! , 833 posts, RR: 2
Reply 17, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 4015 times:

Quoting PHX787 (Reply 16):
The C-5 however rides a bit lower to the ground than the A-380

Major difference between those two (and for that matter between every Military transport and Civilian aircraft) is that the Military ones have high wings, high engines.
Cannot think of a single Military transport without that feature, and obviously there's a reason for this design philosophy, as this infamous video of a C-17 landing in Afghanistan clearly shows.



// You know you're an aviation enthusiast when you look at your neighbour's cars and think about fleet commonality.
User currently offlinelightsaber From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 13430 posts, RR: 100
Reply 18, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 3984 times:
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Quoting WildcatYXU (Reply 2):

I'm afraid it would be too expensive for this purpose.

   However, due to the long times between overhaul, when the A380s become old (as in approaching their 2nd D-check), it would be worth buying an early example as a medical treatment center.

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 3):
The A380 would make a fantastic mobile treatment center, but not a good evacuation system.

   C-17s and C-130s should evacuate to a regional hub (or airport near a hospital) and then move the healthy evacuees and later stabilized patients onward ASAP. In a disaster zone, one needs a plane built to take 'irregular runways' with the *extreme* FOD tolerance of the military transports.

For serious numbers of injured, the hospital ships are the only hope and... they just cannot cope with the scope of some of these tragedies. Even the CASH hospitals (that replace the *M*A*S*H* units). However, disaster zones usually have cargo planes flying in full and back sans cargo. So it is best to have the recovery time outside of the impacted area where infrastructure is still operational (water, power, trucked/railed food and other supplies).

Lightsaber



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User currently offlinePHX787 From Japan, joined Mar 2012, 7851 posts, RR: 19
Reply 19, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 3947 times:

Quoting Semaex (Reply 17):
Major difference between those two (and for that matter between every Military transport and Civilian aircraft) is that the Military ones have high wings, high engines.

   thanks for the video! that's impressive!

And you're right, I'm pretty sure the A-380 couldn't land like that, but I think there are some aircraft that have gravel shields on their engines?



我思うゆえに我あり。(Jap. 'I think, therefore I am.')
User currently offlineneutronstar73 From United States of America, joined Mar 2011, 520 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 3383 times:

A380 is to dependent on infrastructure to get the job done.

YOu need a C-17 or C130 to really get into difficult places.


User currently offlineBMI727 From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 15810 posts, RR: 27
Reply 21, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 3344 times:

Quoting BreninTW (Reply 1):

Military aircraft remain better options for the simple reason that they need a lot less infrastructure.

   Remember that after the earthquake in Haiti some crews inflated the emergency slides to offload their planes since airstairs were unavailable. I would think that a hospital aircraft in such a situation would have to sit on the ramp with an engine running, since I would doubt that the APU would be sufficient and assuming ground power in unavailable. So it would be burning a not insignificant amount of fuel, which probably cannot be replenished locally.

Even beyond that, disaster areas often do not have large airports and the full scale airlift of supplies and personnel is possibly going to be significantly hampered by an A380 sitting there taking up a bunch of ramp space. The best way to go about such operations is bring in the planes, get the cargo off, and get the planes out so the next planes can come in.

Quoting bikerthai (Reply 6):
For emergency mobile hospital units, it's WAY cheaper to fabricate self contained operating rooms in a pallet (one or two of those cargo containers) that can be loaded on to C-17's or similar aircraft to be deployed.

Not to mention that this does not keep the aircraft tied up. Furthermore, evacuation is further complicated by the fact that there may not be any reasonably close hospitals that can handle the influx of patients anyway.

Quoting zippyjet (Reply 14):
Back to the 380 would Airbus ever consider a military/transport version of their super jumbo?

No, going from a civilian transport to a full fledged military transport would require making it for all intents and purposes a new design.



Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
User currently offlineSchorschNG From Germany, joined Sep 2010, 501 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 3025 times:

Most disasters do leave many lightly injured people, most of them can be treated in fairly simple aid stations.
The need for highly equipped mobile hospitals is limited.

To be honest: in a disaster with many injured people it is not economical to treat those that so are badly injured that they require instant surgery (although economics may be considered secondary here, it is less the cost but the availability of help). Concentrate manpower on those that have good chances of survival. Disaster like the Tsunami or earthquakes and floods usually leave healthy but homeless people, people with mild to medium wounds (fractures and stuff), and dead people. Being several hours and days without professional medical attention will usually turn all badly injured people into the last catagory, unfortunately.

Additionally, it isn't the treatment of disaster-related injuries that calls for help (as there aren't so many in the first place). It is the continuation of normal medical service that requires help (and infrastructure). As mentioned previously mobile hospitals are the best option, and they can remain in the country for prolonged time periods.

Disaster become extremely sad when the (unharmed) survivors start dying of diarrhea and simple infects due to lack of help.

[Edited 2012-03-19 07:11:25]


From a structural standpoint, passengers are the worst possible payload. [Michael Chun-Yung Niu]
User currently offlineKC135TopBoom From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12171 posts, RR: 51
Reply 23, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 2978 times:

Quoting PHX787 (Reply 19):
but I think there are some aircraft that have gravel shields on their engines?

IIRC, AS had some B-727-200CFs with gravel shields to protect the engines, and special nose wheel tires, as they went into some austier airfields above the Arctic Circle in Canada and Alaska. The runways were gravel runways.


User currently onlinekanban From United States of America, joined Jan 2008, 3735 posts, RR: 27
Reply 24, posted (2 years 8 months 1 week 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 2703 times:
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Looking at the thread title, yes it would make a good hospital "IN THE SKY"... the problem would be slowing down enough for helicopters to land on the wings to transfer patients....   

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