For Knight Aerospace, a designer and manufacturer of the aeromedical module and pallet solutions for use in military cargo aircraft, it’s all about the people.
Whether it’s the patients they’re transporting or the crew and staff who are treating the sick and injured, Knight stands out among aerospace companies for products designed for comfort, protection, and safety. The aeromedical modules are just one of several product lines designed to transport people safely and effectively on aircraft.
While the company’s been around for 30 years, it’s only recently shifted from its original focus of ground support equipment to highly specialized, airworthy solutions such as the Knight aeromedical module. The Ebola outbreak was a driver to rethink the way patients were transported in military aircraft. As a result, Knight is now unique among aerospace companies in providing safe ways to transport patients, often under dangerous conditions. “Patients, caregivers, and aircrew deserve better than the way it is done now. Our aeromedical modules transform the loud, dark, austere interior of a cargo aircraft into a hospital-grade medical environment,” explains Tom Gallo, the company’s chief revenue officer.
A New Approach to Aeromedical Patient Care
Knight Aerospace leaders saw firsthand how people were being transported on military cargo aircraft and that there was a need for a higher standard of care. Often, patients were loaded onto a stretcher and placed in the back of the aircraft. The stretcher was not secured well and the environment was noisy and unclean.
The company began speaking with military flight surgeons, practitioners, aircrew, and military experts to develop new approaches that provide better conditions at all stages of transport missions. Many of those military professionals act as advisers to the company today.
“Listening to the operators and understanding the circumstances that our solutions will operate in was invaluable to crafting this new approach. While the aircraft navigates takeoff, turbulence, and landings, our goal is to replicate the land-based hospital environment that caregivers are familiar with and patients deserve,” Gallo says. Knight Aerospace builds the aeromedical modules with safety in mind, namely airworthiness, meaning they are able to withstand various inflight conditions and g-forces while providing a safe environment for patients and staff. The company’s aeromedical biocontainment modules are built with negative air pressure systems, to ensure airborne viruses remain in the patient area.
These specialized aeromedical modules are designed with three different areas — a patient area, an anteroom, and a staff area. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues worldwide, these biocontainment modules are a critical step to keeping infectious viruses contained while providing care. The aeromedical modules are fully configurable and can be customized, with beds and equipment to provide critical care, ambulatory transport, or a hybrid combination.
Capabilities include maximum air exchanges, wall-mounted equipment placement, video monitoring and telehealth, vibration and noise dampening, & the functionality to perform resuscitative care and procedures to address major trauma.
While there are a few other aerospace companies in the medical module space, the company notes that those systems lack airworthy designs that achieve FAA and US Military Standards. Other companies deploy repurposed cargo containers that need to be chained to the aircraft floor. In contrast, the Knight Aerospace aeromedical module securely locks into the existing cargo handling system built into the aircraft.
The roll-on, roll-off system has multiple advantages. For one, it allows for mission flexibility across multiple platforms. The Knight aeromedical modules are interoperable on several aircraft types, including C-130, C-17, A400M, C-2, and C-5. The modules roll on and off and are safely and quickly decontaminated upon landing.