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Apr 8 2020

French Air Force Support Fight Against Pandemic With Flying Hospital

ISTRES, France – Since March 18, the French Air Force has conducted six missions on its territory evacuating patients with the A330 MRTT “Phénix” fitted with the Morphée module for the transport of intensive care patients in this type of aircraft.  

The abbreviation Morphée is the French name of the god of sleep, Morpheus, and stands for “Module de réanimation pour patient à haute élongation d’évacuation” or a module allowing the professional evacuation of intensive care patients in a military plane.

Named after the god of sleep Morpheus, the module allows for evacution of intensive care patients during the COVID-19 pandemic
       

The module allows the Air Force to transform a military plane originally designed for cargo and passenger transport or air-to-air refuelling into a real flying hospital with an intensive care unit.

Patientes are being trasnferred into the A330 MRTT. Photo Erwin Bouteillier, French Air Force.

During one flight on March 18, the Phénix left the Istres Air Base and flew towards the Grand-Est region, most severely affected by the pandemic in France, to evacuate six patient in serious COVID-19 condition. During the 50-minute flight patients were taken care of by Air Force medical staff who were assisted in the handling by on-board cabin crew. Back at Istres the patients were relocated to military hospitals at Marseille and Toulon in less affected southern France.

In December 2019, the French Air Force certified the Morphée module for use in the A330 Phénix. Morphée was developed to provide the armed forces with an aeromedical evacuation capacity over long distances to allow transportation of seriously wounded personnel from out-of-area missions.

Setup of the A330 with ambulance cars to begin medical evacuation of intensive care patient in support France's fight against COVID-19. Photo courtesy French Air Force

Initially installed in C-135 cargo aircraft, the French Air Force centre for experimentation and the Medial Service integrated the Morphée module with the A330 Phénix planes for experimentation purposes. The module enables the Air Force to transport six to 12 seriously wounded patients ove a distance of 10,000 km. The certification of the new strategic enabler on the A330 Phénix has now allowed the French Air Force to use it in the fight against the COVID-19.

The A330 MRTT flights have been conducted within the framework of operation Résilience. This operations represents the French Armed Forces’ contribution to fighting COVID-19 in France. The Air Force has employed several of its aircraft and helicopters in support of operation Résilience. 

Medical support personnel and ground crew preparing the transfer of intensive care patients to a French Air Force A330 MRTT fitted with the Morphée module. Photo by Erwin Bouteillier, French Air force

Story by Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office based on information provided by Service d'information et de relations publiques de l'armée de l'air (SIRPA Air)

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