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News Article

Caircraft Aims to Turn Airplanes into Intensive Care Units

By Alicia Arizpe | Mon, 04/06/2020 - 13:33

The COVID-19 pandemic has left healthcare providers scrambling for resources and infrastructure to treat the overwhelming number of cases. UK-based group Caircraft proposes refurbishing airplanes grounded by the crisis into ICU units to treat those suffering the disease.


The quick spread of COVID-19 across countries quickly overwhelmed healthcare systems. Hospitals are designed to handle a limited number of respiratory diseases but they were unprepared to handle the speed and severity of an outbreak that quickly rose to pandemic levels. Now, healthcare providers at areas most hurt by the disease are scrambling to find the necessary medical supplies and infrastructure to manage the overwhelming number of cases.

On the other hand, the COVID-19 pandemic brought the global aviation industry to a halt. As cases rose, people stayed home, plummeting demand for air travel. This led airlines to reduce their operations and ground a significant part of their aircraft, which are now sitting idle at airports waiting for the crisis to pass and for the industry to recover. 

A UK-based group believes that these grounded aircraft might help the healthcare system treat the large number of COVID-19 patients. Caircraft proposes turning large grounded airplanes, such as Airbus A380s and A340s, into intensive care units (ICUs) to treat these patients. The process, which would require stripping down aircraft and refurbishing them with between 100-150 ICU beds, could take seven to 10 days. Caircraft explained that airplanes are convenient for this purpose as they are mobile and are equipped with filtered airflow systems similar to those of an operating room. Moreover, they are available due to the significant reduction in air traffic.

The group is working with UK government and airlines but is also pitching this idea to Canada, Germany, Malaysia and the US.

Alicia Arizpe Alicia Arizpe Senior Writer