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What Are the Differences Between Rotary Wing and Fixed Wing Air Ambulances

Air ambulances are aircraft that are used to provide air medical services such as moving patients from accident scenes to healthcare facilities. Additionally, the personnel aboard air ambulances will often provide thorough emergency and critical care to the patients they are transporting as well. As a service that has existed since World War I, air ambulances have benefited many combatants and civilians over the years. With fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft both serving for air medical services, procedures and applications will often vary as each type presents different flight characteristics and capabilities that benefit specific operations. In this blog, we will discuss air ambulances as well as the differences between fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft for air medical transportation and services.

Generally speaking, air medical services are very advantageous over ground based operations for a variety of reasons. When located in a sparsely-populated rural area or when traversing certain wilderness locations, an air ambulance provides a much greater coverage of an area as compared to a land ambulance. Air ambulances are also much quicker in their operations, ensuring that major trauma injuries can be treated as soon as possible to minimize risk.

The air ambulance may come in the form of a rotary wing or fixed wing aircraft, both of which are used for transportation and treatment. Oftentimes, an air ambulance will be equipped with a variety of medical equipment such as medication, ECGs, ventilators, CPR equipment, stretchers, and monitoring units. In order to ensure proper treatment during the flight, non-medical staff are equipped for transport while medical staff care for the patient. To ensure that the aircraft can quickly and easily operate without risking contact with standard commercial flights, air ambulances work with Air Traffic Control (ATC) and are granted special treatment during operations in which they are actively operating with a patient. During such times, the aircraft will take the call sign MEDEVAC to denote that they need priority handling whether in the air or on the ground.

Rotary wing aircraft refer to the various helicopters that serve for medical purposes. As a substitute for a ground-based ambulance, rotary wing air ambulances are for the transportation of patients to a facility. As rotary wing aircraft are capable of landing in a wide variety of locations and ground types as well can travel at high speeds, they have an edge over their automobile counterparts. As helicopters typically provide only a short range of travel, they are reserved for emergencies in which a patient needs to rapidly be transported to a trauma center.

For fixed wing aircraft, landing is much more limited as pilots require longer stretches of flat land or water surfaces for a safe touchdown. As such, the primary use of fixed wing air ambulances is for the transportation of patients from one facility to another. Unlike rotary wing aircraft, fixed wing aircraft are much more capable of traversing long distances at high speeds without the need for refueling. Additionally, the increased space of fixed wing aircraft permits more medical staff and/or more patients to be transported at a time. As a result, fixed wing aircraft are the most optimal method for transporting passengers long distances by air.

As each aircraft type presents its different capabilities, neither is particularly more advantageous than the other. For accidents that occur in hard to reach areas such as mountains, a helicopter such as the Bell 407 would be most efficient for the rescue and quick transportation of a patient. On the other hand, a patient needing to be flown across the United States for a special treatment would have a much easier time being transported on a fixed wing aircraft.

Just like any type of aircraft, the fixed and rotary wing aircraft that serve medical purposes require regular maintenance and part replacement for their efficient and safe operation. If you are in need of fixed wing camloc components, bracket rotary wing parts, adapter rotary wing components, mounting tray fixed wing parts, or other related items, look no further than NSN Gamut. NSN Gamut is a leading distributor of all types of aviation tools that are required for aircraft maintenance. Whether you need a new bumper rotary wing component or used fixed wing studs, we have you covered with competitive pricing and rapid lead-times. Get started today with a personalized quote in just 15 minutes or less when you fill out and submit an Instant RFQ form as provided on our website.


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