• China to procure helicopters to serve as air ambulances.

China to procure helicopters to serve as air ambulances. (Photo : Getty Images)

China is opening its low-level airspace to non-military aircraft to give way for more helicopters to serve as ambulances in the air in the forthcoming boom in the global aviation industry.

On Wednesday, Reuters reported how Airbus Group head Norbert Ducrot considers the Chinese government's recent ease on the control of their low-lying airways as a huge opportunity for his company and others with similar trade.

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According to Ducrot, the decision could pave the way for a booming demand of air ambulances.

So far, China has only 20 existing air ambulances to serve in emergencies.

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According to the Airbus Group, China's first-ever fully equipped air ambulance became operational in Oct. 2014.

Powered with twin-engines, the EC135 became the nation's first rotorcraft that was solely dedicated for the use of helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) missions in China.

"In addition to benefitting from the EC135's excellence as an EMS helicopter, we also appreciate the added value of Airbus Helicopters' experience and relationships with HEMS operators," Beijing Red Cross Society of China Executive Vice President Ma Runhai said at the time.

During the turnover ceremony of the aircraft, Airbus Helicopters Germany's CEO Wolfgang Schoder said that the introduction of the air ambulance is "the perfect platform to kickstart China's efforts in ramping up its airborne emergency medical services."

With the current development in the country, Ducrot said that his company is expecting to supply China with over 3,000 helicopters to serve as medical emergency aircraft.

According to Ducrot, the ease on China's control over the low-altitude airspace serves the country well, especially for the HEMS which, he deems, "is very much needed in a country of such geographical and population size."


"By 2025, China will become the most important helicopter market in the world," Ducrot told Reuters, adding his expectations that the country would be able to buy 60 helicopters in 2016 and as much as 300 annually until 2025.

While his arithmetic is simple when it comes to Airbus' profits, there are some who doubt the effectiveness of the project, especially in areas where spaces where helipads can be built are limited.

"It's difficult to add things on to the building, especially as tall towers have sprung up on all four sides," explained engineer Liu Xiaoxi, referring to the Sichuan Provincial People's Hospital in Chengdu City. "If you want to add a helipad on top of a building then you have to design that in early on in terms of the various beams and supports."