Germany – DRF working on EFB software for helicopters

Germany – DRF working on EFB software for helicopters

22-Oct-2012 Source: DRF

The crews of DRF Luftrettung need a lot of information for their world-wide missions – ranging from comprehensive charts to the 900-page flight manual. Recently, DRF Luftrettung has begun to success-fully use tablet PCs in the cockpits of their air ambulance jets, on which this necessary information is stored. These digital aids facili-tate the work of crew members on their flights to repatriate patients and save time, weight and costs at the same time.

DRF Luftrettung has procured a total of seven “Electronic Flight Bags” (EFB) for their three ambulance aircraft. The tablet PCs contain all route, approach and departure charts, documents and the flight manual. Round 35 kilograms of paper therefore remain on the ground – replaced by 600 grams of high-tech in the cockpit. This saves weight and therefore money, because the heavier the aircraft, the more kerosene it consumes. “If we extrapolate this to our annual average use, the tablets will save about 7,000 Euros per year in kerosene costs”, says Udo Kordeuter, DRF Luftrettung Fleet Commander.

The use of tablets saves time

In addition, the electronic flight bags facilitate the work of the crew: “We update all the relevant data before every flight. This is done automatically with the tablet via the Internet and takes about 30 minutes”, Norbert Fleischmann, captain and head of aircraft standardization at DRF Luftret-tung explains. This eliminates the previously necessary revision of the charts, on which a pilot used to work up to four hours every two weeks. Moreover, EFBs are easier to handle than paper documents.

Tablets increase flight safety

Even if one of the devices fails, there won’t be the proverbial radio silence in the cockpit: “We always carry a second tablet as a replacement. It con-tains exactly the same information as the primary device“, Fleischmann says. “Furthermore, the device can already show us the route chart for the return flight during the outbound flight.” In addition, the crew can call up current information on flight obstacles, possible landing sites and weather developments during the deployment. This increases flight safety.

DRF Luftrettung is working on software for helicopters

In the long term, the DRF Luftrettung helicopter fleet is also supposed to benefit from the innovations in the cockpit. Since the Federal Aviation Au-thority has officially approved EFBs for flight operations in DRF Luftrettung aircraft in August 2012, the organization has been working on a software program that is tailored specifically to the requirements of helicopter crews. Then helicopter cockpits will also be paperless in future.

Together with the LAA (Luxembourg Air Ambulance), DRF Luftrettung uses seven aircraft to repatriate patients throughout the world under the name of European Air Ambulance (EAA). In 2011, 872 flights were carried out to bring patients back home from abroad. These global operations are coor-dinated by the Alert Centre at the Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden airport. In emergencies the centre can be reached around the clock at 0711-701070.

In addition, DRF Luftrettung uses more than 50 helicopters at 31 stations in Germany, Austria and Denmark for air rescue operations and the transport of intensive care patients between hospitals, at eight locations even around the clock.

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