Boeing makes no bones about the luxury and style it offers on its large business jets but thanks to an innovative project developed in Sweden, they can be converted to lifesaving workhorses in a matter of hours. The company has certified a modular system of stretchers and self-contained intensive-care beds that can be used in the mass evacuation of casualties from disasters. "We can convert a standard airliner or business aircraft in less than six hours," said SAS Technical Services engineer Sven Reiner. A 737-800 can carry six of the intensive-care beds and the staff needed to monitor them, along with up to two dozen less seriously injured individuals.
Sweden keeps a full planeload of equipment on standby but it's only been used in a real emergency once, when it helped out in the evacuation of people injured in the tsunami that hit Southeast Asia several years ago. Although it's a potent tool to help out in emergencies, there has to be basic infrastructure in place to handle the large aircraft and that's why the system has not been employed in the recent earthquake disaster in China and the typhoon in Burma. Reiner says the Swedes hold regular disaster response exercises and the system is employed in those trials.