Jet suit flight tested for emergency medical response on mountains

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The Daedalus Jet Suit developed by Gravity Industries has been flight tested for use in emergency medical response in the Lake District, UK.

The suit, which has been in development since 2016, uses five thrusters to propel a person for up to 10 minutes at a top speed 120km/h, can operate at altitudes of up to 12,000ft and runs off jet A1 fuel or diesel.

Former oil trader Richard Browning, founder and chief test pilot at Gravity Industries, piloted the jet suit during the test at the Langdale Pikes in the Lake District region of the UK. During the flight the suit was flown from the bottom of the valley to a simulated casualty site on The Band, near Bowfell mountain.

The simulated casualty site takes around 25 minutes to reach by foot. The Gravity Jet Suit was able to cover the same distance in 90 seconds.

The exercise was the culmination of a year of discussion between Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) and Gravity Industries.

Andy Mawson, director of operations and paramedic at GNAAS, identified the Lake District, a popular site for ramblers in the UK, as a possible location for a Jet Suit paramedic after hearing about Gravity Industies’ jet suit and studying the charity’s own call-out data.

Mawson said, “It showed dozens of patients every month within the complex but relatively small geographical footprint of the Lakes.

“We could see the need. What we didn’t know for sure is how this would work in practice. Well we’ve seen it now and it is, quite honestly, awesome.

“Our aircraft will remain a vital part of the emergency response in this terrain, as will the fantastic mountain rescue teams. But this is about looking at supplementing those resources with something completely new.

“We think this technology could enable our team to reach some patients much quicker than ever before. In many cases this would ease the patient’s suffering. In some cases, it would save their lives.”

Richard Browning said, “It was wonderful to be invited to explore the capabilities of the Gravity Jet Suit in an emergency response simulation and work alongside the team at GNAAS. We are just scratching the surface in terms of what is possible to achieve with our technology.

“Emergency response is one of the areas Gravity are actively pursuing, alongside launching a new commercial training location at the world-renowned Goodwood Estate.”

With the test complete, GNAAS and Gravity Industries are now exploring the next steps in this collaboration. This includes designing a flight training system to ensure for jet suit paramedics and work on financing and logistics for the flights. GNASS said it was “too early to put a date on it becoming operational”.

The suit is covered under general aviation by the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority, so there is no requirement for a formal license to fly it.

The Daedalus jet suit has been available to buy since July 2018, but has not yet found applications outside of enthusiasts and air shows. Gravity Industries has also previously discussed its intention to hold jet suit races as a spectator sport.

Jet suit paramedic

Paramedics would fly slowly and close to the ground to mitigate risks (Image: GNAAS)

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Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering almost all aspects of technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before eventually becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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