Aeromed­ical char­i­ty Care­Flight and eVTOL air­craft devel­op­er AMSL Aero has teamed up to launch a new eVTOL air ambu­lance to tack­le rur­al and region­al health­care inequal­i­ty in the coun­try.

The air­craft, called Ver­ti­ia, was offi­cial­ly unveiled at Care­Flight’s hangar in Syd­ney, with sup­port from the com­pa­ny’s project part­ners which include the Uni­ver­si­ty of Syd­ney. Speak­ers at the launch event includ­ed Michael McCor­ma­ck MP, Deputy Prime Min­is­ter and Min­is­ter for Infra­struc­ture, Trans­port and Region­al Devel­op­ment.

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.

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

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.”

Uni­ver­si­ty of Syd­ney Vice-Chan­cel­lor, Dr Michael Spence, added: “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 Spence says are ‘deep experts in hydro­gen fuel cell propul­sion and mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary opti­mi­sa­tion.”

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

It will have a top cruis­ing speed of 300kph and trav­el 250km when pow­ered by elec­tric bat­ter­ies. AMSL Aero says the air­craft can even be fuelled using hydro­gen, which extends Ver­ti­ia’s total range to 800km.

Ver­ti­ia has poten­tial appli­ca­tions across almost unlim­it­ed regions and indus­tries – includ­ing one day as fly­ing air taxis you could sum­mon with a smart­phone. How­ev­er, AMSL Aero’s Co-founder and CEO Andrew Moore said the com­pa­ny wants to launch where the need was urgent and the impact would be pro­found and life-sav­ing.

Moore, who is a qual­i­fied aero­nau­ti­cal engi­neer and pilot, has worked in aero­space lead­er­ship roles for more than two decades and found­ed AMSL Aero with Siob­han Lyn­don. She hold degrees in law and busi­ness and has over 20 years expe­ri­ence in the tech­nol­o­gy, telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and pro­fes­sion­al ser­vices sec­tors. This includ­ed a decade at Google, where she held senior lead­er­ship roles across the world.

Moore said: “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.

“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.”