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Manufacturer makes specialist aircraft stretchers to transport coronavirus patients

PUBLISHED: 05:52 23 May 2020

Cobalt Aerospace's headquarters in Hingham  Picture: GOOGLEMAPS

Cobalt Aerospace's headquarters in Hingham Picture: GOOGLEMAPS

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Aerospace engineers at an East Anglian manufacturer are using their skills to make vital specialist stretchers to enable coronavirus patients to be transferred by air.

Ben Brown, director and co-founder of Cobalt Aerospace Ltd  Picture: COBALT AEROSPACE LTDBen Brown, director and co-founder of Cobalt Aerospace Ltd Picture: COBALT AEROSPACE LTD

Cobalt Aerospace, based at Hingham in Norfolk, was selected by UK-based GVH Aerospace to make their AeroStretchers, which enable aircraft to be transformed into “air ambulances” without the need for permanent changes to the cabin.

The firm’s first batch of stretchers will be used for Covid-19 patient transfers in the UK, and the £2.3m turnover company – which employs nine staff – is hoping the product will encourage operators to use their grounded aircraft to support the NHS and emergency services and ease the strain on air rescue services.

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The team of engineers and designers – led by director and co-founder Ben Brown – makes specialist products for commercial aircraft.

Mr Brown said they were “proud” to have been chosen for the contract.

Cobalt Aerospace has been chosen to manufacture medical stretchers that will enable more aircraft to transfer Covid-19 patients. Pictured is an AeroStretcher Mk IV  Picture: GVH AEROSPACE
Cobalt Aerospace has been chosen to manufacture medical stretchers that will enable more aircraft to transfer Covid-19 patients. Pictured is an AeroStretcher Mk IV Picture: GVH AEROSPACE

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“We have worked with GVH Aerospace before on the manufacture of their AeroStretcher Mk IV aeromedical equipment, and we are thrilled to be selected by them again for such a timely and important project,” he said.

“Our hope is that civil aircraft that would otherwise be grounded during this time may be able to easily, reversibly convert their cabins into aeromedical transportation facilities and help to ease the pressure on our emergency transportation services.”

The GVH stretcher design means that no permanent modification needs to be made to aircraft, with only seats needing to be removed to clear the cabin ready for the equipment.

Cobalt Aerospace has been chosen to manufacture medical stretchers that will enable more aircraft to transfer Covid-19 patients. Pictured is an AeroStretcher Mk IV  Picture: GVH AEROSPACE
Cobalt Aerospace has been chosen to manufacture medical stretchers that will enable more aircraft to transfer Covid-19 patients. Pictured is an AeroStretcher Mk IV Picture: GVH AEROSPACE

“The medical situation around the Covid-19 pandemic is constantly changing, and a major concern during this time is the ability of medical facilities to cope with such a large influx of patients. Airborne emergency services are a vital asset during this time, but they also are becoming quickly overstretched,” said Mr Brown. “The system can be installed in minutes.”

As well as nine people at its Hingham facility, the firm’s Miami-based USA division – Cobalt Aerospace Inc – has a further two full time employees. It is working on a strategic partnership with GVH Aerospace that will see Cobalt Aerospace Inc become the first port of call for aircraft operators in the USA, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean who are seeking to quickly adapt their aircraft into air ambulances using AeroStretcher Mk IV.

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