MedAire and AirCell partner to advance inflight medical emergency communications

Tempe 06 March 2003Seatback phones have been removed from a large number of commercial aircraft. Access to the cockpit radio is prohibited or not practical. Not all business aircraft have adequate cabin telecom systems. As a result, it has become very difficult for crews to consult with ground-based physicians when they are dealing with an inflight medical emergency, an event that occurred more than 12.000 times in 2002 alone. MedAire Inc. and AirCell Inc. have teamed up to resolve this inflight dilemma through the joint introduction of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved airborne telecommunication systems that provide air-to-ground communications from the aircraft cabin, anywhere in the world.


"The physicians within our MedLink Global Response Center are managing upwards of 60 inflight medical emergencies on a daily basis", stated MedAire president and CEO Joan Sullivan Garrett. "The key to providing the best care possible is for our physicians to speak directly with those who are trying to manage the medical event. The technology represented by AirCell brings a very economical level of air-to-ground communications to anywhere within the cabin. That is superior to what existed with seatback phones and/or solutions prior to 9/11. It will enable our physicians and airline crew members to better meet passenger needs, anywhere in the world."

The AirCell air-to-ground system, with one or more wireless handsets, is mounted on an aircraft's cabin bulkhead for easy access by crew and passengers. For aircraft that fly within the continental United States, the system connects to the existing AirCell ground-based cellular infrastructure. For aircraft that fly internationally, the system can be enhanced so that it will seamlessly interface with the global Iridium satellite network for connectivity anywhere in the world.

AirCell's vice president of sales and marketing, Bill Peltola, noted: "The new bulkhead-mount wireless version of the AirCell airborne telephone system will be available in April. Given the practicality of its low-cost, ease of installation and ability to reduce risk and avoid diversions, a number of airlines are evaluating the system for possible fleet-wide installation."

Established in 1986, MedAire offers fully integrated health and security solutions including remote emergency assistance services, training and education programmes, specialised resources such as medical and security kits and a network of international-standard medical clinics in Asia. MedAire provides services to commercial airlines throughout the world, corporate flight departments, government agencies, military, maritime operators, and international business travellers and expatriates.

AirCell designs, manufactures, markets and supports a full product line of airborne cellular and satellite telecommunication systems and services for the business aviation, general aviation, and air transport markets. More than 1200 aircraft are equipped with the company's airborne systems. Headquartered in Louisville, Colorado, the privately held company is the only Federal Communications Commission-authorised provider of airborne cellular telephones and telephone services.

AirCell provides voice, fax, e-mail, data, and Internet connectivity, including NEXRAD weather radar imagery to the cockpit. The company's nationwide ground network of 22 cellular providers utilises existing ground-based cellular telephone infrastructure to provide the largest geographic cellular network in the United States.

Leslie Versweyveld

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