Gravity Industries’ 1050bhp Jet Suit can deliver a first responder to a casualty site in a fraction of the time that it would take a mountain rescue team.
This is the conclusion of a test flight that took place in the Lake District, an area of north west England that attracts around 15 million visitors a year, some of whom run into difficulties on the area’s elevated terrain.
The test, a collaboration between Gravity Industries and the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS), saw Gravity Industries founder and Chief Test Pilot Richard Browning fly from the bottom of a valley to a simulated casualty site. The simulated casualty site would take around 25 minutes to reach by foot but the Gravity Jet Suit covered the distance in 90 seconds, opening a range of possibilities for use in emergency response.
The exercise was the culmination of a year of discussion between GNAAS and Gravity Industries.
Andy Mawson, director of operations and paramedic at GNAAS, identified the Lakes as a possible location for a Jet Suit paramedic after hearing of Browning’s work and then studying the charity’s own call-out data.
“It showed dozens of patients every month within the complex but relatively small geographical footprint of the Lakes,” he said in a statement. “We could see the need. What we didn’t know for sure is how this would work in practice. Well we’ve seen it now and it is, quite honestly, awesome.”
The 1,050bhp Jet Suit contains five mini jet engines, with two built into both hand units and one built into a backpack. They can use Jet A1 or diesel and can provide a flight time of between 5-10 minutes. The Jet Suit has a current speed record of 85mph.
Mawson said the exercise had demonstrated the potential of utilising Jet Suits to deliver critical care services.
“Our aircraft will remain a vital part of the emergency response in this terrain, as will the fantastic mountain rescue teams. But this is about looking at supplementing those resources with something completely new.
“We think this technology could enable our team to reach some patients much quicker than ever before. In many cases this would ease the patient’s suffering. In some cases, it would save their lives.”
Browning added: “We are just scratching the surface in terms of what is possible to achieve with our technology. Emergency response is one of the areas Gravity are actively pursuing, alongside launching a new commercial training location at the… Goodwood Estate.”