Paramedic ‘jet suit’ flight tested by U.K. ambulance service
Gravity Industries’ ‘Iron Man’-style jet pack investigated as a means to help medical staff quickly traverse rough, hilly terrain.
The UK’s Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) and Gravity Industries announced the successful test flight of the British company’s patented, 1050 bhp Jet Suit within the Lake District, the UK’s most famous national park.
According to the charitable emergency response organization, it’s exploring the use of the jet pack as an efficient means to reach and treat casualties in the hilly and rugged terrain of the national park.
Capable of speeds up to 136.9 kph and 5-10 minutes of flight time, the jet pack is most notable for its five turbines. The main turbine is worn on the pilot’s back; the other four are paired on the pilot’s hands and arms, like gauntlets, to provide stabilization and direction control.
During the test, Gravity Industries founder and chief test pilot, Richard Browning, flew from the valley bottom to an elevated simulated casualty site that would takes approximately 25 minutes to climb by foot. The Gravity Jet Suit cover that distance in 90 seconds.
According to Andy Mawson, director of operations and paramedic at GNAAS, the ambulance service receives dozens of critical care calls per month within the Lakes District park.
“We could see the need,” Mawson said. “What we didn’t know for sure is how this would work in practice. Well we’ve seen it now and it is, quite honestly, awesome.”
“We think this technology could enable our team to reach some patients much quicker than ever before,” he added. “In many cases, this would ease the patient’s suffering. In some cases, it would save their lives.”
With the test complete, GNAAS and Gravity Industries are now exploring the next steps.