You’ve reached the peak of a Swiss alpine summit … you breathe deep, take some photos, and begin to head down.
But on your way down, the ice breaks under your pitons, and you are carried down 50 metres — thankfully, your rope and an ice anchor has saved you.
Unfortunately, there is a sharp pain in your right leg, you discover it’s broken clean through. Suddenly, a wave of fear comes over you.
These are the risks of climbing solo.
You reach into your backpack, and hit the SOS button on your ZOLEO satellite transmitter. Within minutes, a rescue team is alerted, and your position is pinpointed.
They are on their way — you will live, to climb again. Or so you hope.
You think it’s a mirage, but a red & white tilt-wing, SAR rescue plane is hovering right in front of you — the pilot is waving.
They land below on a ledge, and a team of professional rescuers is heading to reach you.
That is a fictional story, of course, but it could very well happen in the future, if the partnership between Dufour Aerospace and Swiss Air-Rescue Rega develop an eVTOL air ambulance.
The piloted, hybrid Aero3 is specially designed for emergency medical services and patient transport, Flying Magazine reported.
In its initial stages, Dufour will allow Rega — a nonprofit that provides emergency medical assistance to areas of Switzerland — to give input on the development of the aircraft to better suit its air-rescue needs.
“Continuous development is in Rega’s DNA,” Rega CEO Ernst Kohler said in a news release.
“The Aero3 is an exceptionally interesting aircraft, and we want to support its development with our experience from 70 years of [helicopter emergency medical system] operation.”
Dufour’s previous project, the Aero2, was an unmanned, smaller version of the aircraft that was test-flown last year.
“The collaboration with Rega will challenge Dufour Aerospace and advance our product development,” said Dufour CEO Thomas Pfammatter.
“They are a global leader in air rescue with the highest standards. Through this partnership, we will better understand and meet the needs of our customers.
“The Aero3 will meet the requirements for demanding patient transport, combining vertical take-off with sufficient load, high speed and range.
“Aero3 will be more efficient, less expensive and quieter than today’s helicopters and will integrate seamlessly with existing infrastructure and systems.”
According to Dufour, electric motors offer energy efficiency of 90% compared to 40% of combustion motors.
They have fewer parts than conventional motors and therefore need only little maintenance and offer high reliability and safety.
Electric powertrains also offer more flexibility – due to their comparatively smaller size, electric motors can be positioned directly where power is needed, without the need to install complicated power transmission.
Swiss Air-Rescue Rega was founded in 1952 and provides rapid and professional medical assistance from the air for people in emergency situations, HeliHub.com reported.
To do this, the group says it uses the best possible trained and most experienced staff as well as the most modern rescue helicopters and ambulance jets.
To fulfil its mission, Rega claims it can reach any location in its operational area in Switzerland within a 15-minute flight by rescue helicopter. This is made possible by thirteen operational bases spread throughout the country.
With three of its own ambulance jets, Rega also flies sick or injured people from abroad back to their home country.
As a private, non-profit foundation, it also acts independently of the state or financial interests.
Rega is supported by more than 3.6 million patrons, whose annual contributions keep Rega in the air for the benefit of the Swiss population.
Swiss-based Dufour Aerospace develops efficient and ecological aircraft for patient and passenger transport, logistics and public safety.
The Aero3, which is currently under development, takes off and lands vertically in the smallest space like a helicopter, but flies as fast and economically as an airplane.
Sources: Flying Magazine, HeliHub.com, eVTOL.com, Dufour Aerospace