CareFlight and Australian company AMSL Aero have launched a partnership with the goal of developing aeromedical applications for advanced electric flying vehicles that will tackle rural and regional healthcare inequality and save more lives.

In announcing the innovative project, AMSL Aero officially unveiled the energy efficient, electric air ambulance, ‘Vertiia’, at an event held at CareFlight’s hangar in Sydney, with support from the company’s project partners, including the University of Sydney. Launch event speakers also included Hon Michael McCormack MP, Deputy Prime Minister & Minister for Infrastructure, Transport & Regional Development.

Vertiia is an electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, cruising at a speed of 300kph, and traveling up to 250km (electric) or 800km (hydrogen). Vertiia is designed to the highest levels of safety and is significantly quieter than combustion engine aircraft like helicopters.

The partnership with CareFlight for an ‘electric aero ambulance’ could see CareFlight deploy electric flying air ambulances within a few years, which will initially be flown by CareFlight pilots. CareFlight is also providing expert advice and input into the aircraft design to ensure it is fit for medical purposes.

Vertiia has potential applications across almost unlimited regions and industries – including one day as flying taxis you could summon with a smartphone – however co-founder and CEO Andrew Moore said they wanted to launch where the need was urgent and the impact would be profound and life-saving.

“Vertiia will instantly enable greater access to medical services for vulnerable remote, rural, and regional communities, offering new models of care through rapid and low-cost connectivity,” Mr Moore said.

“Unlike aeromedical planes that require a runway, Vertiia will carry patients directly from any location straight to the hospital, significantly reducing the complexity and time transporting vulnerable patients. It will also be quieter and safer than helicopters, and will eventually cost as little as a car to maintain and run, transforming aeromedical transport into a far more affordable, accessible, safer, and reliable option.”

“Australia’s expansive geography and low population density makes this technology especially valuable, with other crucial applications including airlifting people during bushfires, or transporting rural patients for preventative healthcare and testing, instead of waiting until the point of critical illness, injury, or risk of death.”

“Being the most efficient eVTOL in the world, it also creates a tremendous opportunity to provide zero emissions air transport solutions,” Mr Moore concluded.

The partnership between AMSL Aero and CareFlight forms part of a $3 million Cooperative Research Centres Project grant from the federal government, for a two-year collaborative project with the University of Sydney and autonomy and sensing specialists, Mission Systems.

CareFlight CEO, Mick Frewen, said: “The advances in aeromedical service capability Vertiia promises will transform patient outcomes in vulnerable regional and remote communities. The safe and efficient new technology will enable CareFlight to provide the best clinical care for more Australians than has ever been possible, and importantly, get them that vital help much faster.

“The advance would supercharge CareFlight’s ability to deliver on our mission: to save lives and speed recovery and serve the community,” Mr Frewen said.

University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor, Dr Michael Spence, said: “We are incredibly excited to be collaborating with AMSL Aero on the development of Vertiia, a technology which has the potential to rapidly decarbonise air travel and improve patient transport. Leading the project from the University of Sydney is Associate Professor Dries Verstraete and his team, who are deep experts in hydrogen fuel cell propulsion and multidisciplinary optimisation.”

Vertiia is currently being built at AMSL’s aerodrome at Bankstown Airport, with test flights to take place at its facility in Narromine Airport in regional New South Wales.