As part of the Air Test and Evaluation Centre (ATEC) at MoD Boscombe Down, the QinetiQ helicopters team has worked with the Puma Force to enable capabilities needed for immediate deployment in support of the MoDs COVID-19 Defence Force.
Image courtesy QinetiQ
The Puma helicopter is a highly versatile aircraft with the ability to deliver medevac roles, carry internal and external loads while operating in and around major urban areas.
With the global pandemic creating unique challenges and a host of uncertainties, people and organisations alike have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to provide support and equipment to those working on the front lines. The challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic prompted a shift in focus, emphasising urgency in response to new demands supporting the activity around the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
QinetiQ’s helicopter team, as part of the ATEC team at MoD Boscombe Down, responded by supporting the preparation of Puma helicopters which were used by emergency services in the transport of people and equipment. Tasked with providing all the necessary clearances for a suite of emergency services equipment and portable electronic devices to be used on board the helicopters, the team re-prioritised tasks and completed an extremely intensive programme of work in response to urgent deadlines.
To enable deployment and real-time advanced communication with the emergency services – the ATEC team had to:
Employ transmitting and non-transmitting portable electronic devices (TPEDs/PEDs) – walk-on radios and radio frequency transmitting Airworthy Medical Equipment during all phases of flight
Collaborate closely with the Rotary Wing Test & Evaluation Squadron (RWTES), with testing and electromagnetic interference assessments conducted in the Anechoic Test Facility at MOD Boscombe Down.
Thanks to the concerted effort and resolve of the ATEC team, the RAF’s Puma Force was able to provide four of its aircraft for immediate deployment in support of the MoD’s COVID-19 Defence Force. Each aircraft was also able to operate with the benefit of real-time advanced communication with the emergency services.
Nick Lay, Engineering Director for Air & Space at QinetiQ said: “All of us here at QinetiQ are full of admiration and praise for the doctors, nurses and the support staff in the NHS during this pandemic. The Puma Force played a key role in supporting the NHS as part of the MOD’s COVID-19 Defence Force and we’re proud of the team at Boscombe Down for swiftly and accurately working with them to ensure these aircraft could safely support the emergency services.”