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 Apr 8 2020

European Air Transport Command Facilitates Allied Anti-COVID-19 Flights

EINDHOVEN, The Netherlands – In the past weeks the air forces of NATO Allies have been supporting each other and their nations in the battle against COVID-19 transporting patients and medical supplies. At the European Air Transport Command (EATC) in Eindhoven, a multinational staff has been busy with planning, coordinating and facilitating these air movements for their member nations.

Since the of end January, EATC has supported its seven member nations Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Spain in the battle against the virus, continuously commanding missions to evacuate infected personnel, ensuring medical supplies are delivered where they are most urgently needed and repatriating citizens back to Europe.

EATC’s dedicated flying intensive care units are currently in high demand

A focus lies currently on medical evacuation and relocation missions of COVID-19 patients. “We are evacuating infected military personnel from operation areas as well as transporting intensive care patients in support of our member nations,” said Brigadier General Francesco Agresti, Deputy Commander of the EATC.

“Between March 27 and April 3, for instance, EATC commanded five intensive care missions conducted by German A 310 and A 400M in special configuration, bringing Italian and French patients from Bergamo (Italy) and Strasbourg (France) into German hospitals,” Brigadier General Agresti added. “EATC’s dedicated flying intensive care units are currently in high demand and most probably will continue to be in the weeks to come,” he concluded.

“EATC’s Aeromedical Evacuation Control Centre essentially coordinates these medical evacuation missions thanks to a multinational team of highly experienced flight surgeons and flight nurses, experts in aeromedical transports,” Brigadier General Agresti explained.

“They assess the evacuations of patients and coordinate the mission together with the national stakeholders; the team works constantly under time pressure, the health of the patient always ranking first,” he underlined. After the thorough preparation, the mission is then handed over to EATC’s 24/7 mission control centre to command and control it in close coordination with the in-house medical team.

“At EATC we are also affected by the pandemic like everyone else,” said Brigadier General Agresti. “We have taken measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and at the same time to ensure we can continue accomplishing our mission – to support our members with the planning and overhead coordination of multinational air transport wherever and whenever needed. We also issued recommendations to our member nations for the medical evacuation of COVID-19 patients and all our members have applied them pertinently,” he added. 

The European Air Transport Command is a 24/7 multinational command, located at Eindhoven Air Base in the Netherlands. It is a unique organisation within Europe for military air transport, air-to-air refuelling and aeromedical evacuation. The fleet is composed of over 170 assets at the national air bases assigned to the EACT by the seven member nations - all of them NATO Allies. They operate their military air transport assets with one common set of rules and regulations, enhance interoperability and train together in multinational environments.

Story by Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office based on information provided by the EATC Public Affairs Office

The EATC fleet and their locations depicted on this map. Learn more at Photo courtesy EATC
EATC Deputy Commander Brigadier General Francesco Agresti, Italian Air Force, in the EATC Mission Control Centre. Photo by Marco de Simone, EATC
Ambulance vehicles in front of a Bundeswehr Airbus A310 ready to support the relocation of COVID-19 patients. Photo by Kevin Schrief, Bundswehr
Transfer of a COVID-19 patient into a medical evacuation version of a Bundeswehr Airbus A400M. Photo courtesy Bundeswehr

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