The King Air350 air ambulance aircraft was bought from a US-based company at a cost of 2.5 million dollars. Managing director of MTDN, owner of East African Aviation, Mulat Lemlemayehu (Capt.), told The Reporter that more than 500,000 US dollars were spent to equip the aircraft with a state-of-the-art medical equipment required to give emergency medical services on board.
Mulat flew the new aircraft all the way from Greenville, South Carolina to Addis Ababa three weeks ago. “It was a 28 hours flight or it took four and half days to reach here.”
According to Mulat, all modern medical equipment that enables a physician to cater emergency medical treatments aboard an aircraft have been installed on the plane. Stretcher, oxygen and a number of other medical equipment are installed in the aircraft. “A medical service equipment system has been installed in the aircraft starting from the cockpit to the cabin. This is very crucial for a patient who is under intensive care. The medical equipment meet international standards. They are the latest products available in the international market today. Now we can easily fly a patient in critical condition from point A to B anywhere in Ethiopia and neighboring countries.”
East African Aviation has hired a physician licensed by the US Federal Aviation Administration. The aircraft can carry a patient, doctor and caretaker. “The aircraft has highly functional and durable air ambulance equipment that exceeds all stringent aviation regulations. The aircraft has been inspected and approved by the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority,” Mulat said.
Mulat said the King350 convertible aircraft can land and take off on gravel, asphalt and concrete run way. “We selected this aircraft because it is comfortable. It can land and take off on a short field runway in domestic airports and it can cruise at an altitude of 35,000 feet at 300 knots (300 nautical miles per hour).”
Mulat said now East African Aviation has become the first company in Ethiopia to own and operate an air ambulance aircraft. “We can bring a patient from all the regional states to Addis Ababa. We can fly a patient from Addis Ababa to Dubai, Addis Ababa to Jeddah, Addis Ababa to Nairobi or from Addis Ababa to South Africa via Lusaka.”
The air ambulance aircraft will soon be operational. Mulat hopes to provide the service to international aid organizations, travel agencies, VIPs, mining and construction companies who operate in remote parts of Ethiopia. “We will operate in Sudan and Djibouti.”
Mulat also extended his gratitude to Dashen Bank for the cooperation rendered.
According to Mulat, there was no air ambulance service in Ethiopia. Usually it was from South Africa or Kenya that air ambulance aircraft was called. “Any aircraft can take a patient. But if you do not have the required medical equipment the patient may die abroad the aircraft. Though Ethiopia has the highest concentration of diplomats in Africa there is no aircraft which is fit to provide air ambulance service. And there were very sad incidents where patients died waiting for an air ambulance aircraft coming from Kenya or South Africa. We also had difficulty in transporting a VIP person for an emergency medical treatment abroad. This has prompted me to bring a modern air ambulance aircraft,” Mulat told The Reporter.
Securing landing permit from the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority is a challenge. “Now you have a local company with a modern air ambulance aircraft at your disposal with a short notice.”
East African Aviation is already holding talks with travel agencies in Sudan and Djibouti. It is also planning to avail the service in Ethiopia in collaboration with local insurance companies. “We want to make the service affordable to Ethiopians. We will have a membership insurance scheme where members will be flown by the air ambulance aircraft in case of emergency. We are currently working on this with local insurance companies.”
East African Aviation has finalized preparations to start providing regular charter flight service. It is in the process to bring another King Air350 aircraft for charter flights. For the time being the air ambulance aircraft can be converted to a regular passenger aircraft to provide charter flight service.
It has also established a private pilot training school in Addis Ababa near the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport. The flight school became operational four month ago and it currently has nine cadets from Ethiopia and other African countries. Twenty more students are coming from an African country soon,” Mulat said.
The flight school has two Cessna172 trainer aircraft and full flight simulator. East African Aviation Flight School and Charter Flight Service are licensed by the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority.
Mulat is a seasoned pilot who served Ethiopian Airlines for 39 years. In his flight log book he has accumulated 27,000 hours. He commanded various aircraft starting from an old DC3 to the state-of-the-art Boeing787 Dreamliner.