The French authorities will use these new A330 MRTT Phenix flying hospital planes to evacuate patients from the East of the country to the West as coronavirus cases surge.
The aircraft is not just a hospital. It can also be used to refuel fighter jets. The coronavirus crisis marks the first time the French are using it on national soil since it began service.
The plane is designed to transport freight and passengers, but its most impressive function is as a flying hospital designed to transport seriously wounded soldiers. It boasts a full medical facility welded right into the plane’s hull.
With its special MORPHEE medical configuration, the plane can transport 12 patients lying down over a distance of over 10,000 kilometres.
The French Minister for the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, 56, said: “The Airbus A330 will repeat, as it has done three times, an operation which is intended to relieve Mulhouse hospital.” The six patients it is transporting are headed from a hospital in Mulhouse to a Bordeaux hospital today.
Parly told local media that so far the French military currently counts around “400” infections.
This will be the fourth time the French use their plane in recent days to ferry people suffering from the coronavirus. Others had been evacuated to Marseille, Toulon and Brittany last week.
With its maximum payload of 45 tonnes and its transport capacity of over 100 tonnes of fuel, the A330 Phoenix has been chosen by the French army to refuel its Rafales fighter jets. A total of fifteen A330 MRTT Phoenix aircraft are set to enter service with twelve already funded. Six are scheduled to be delivered by 2022, the remainder by 2024. By October 2019, the first two Phenix planes had been put into operational service.
These images were shared by the Air Force on 20th March to show off the inside of the plane after the first missions.
According to the latest data from the Johns Hopkins University, France has 29,155 cases and 1,696 deaths.
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