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SAS MEDEVAC - Boeing 737- 700

SAS has a long-standing agreement with the Scandinavian authorities to provide a ‘hospital plane’ in crisis situations and for medical transport missions, so-called MEDEVAC flights.

The aircraft is a regular Boeing 737 passenger plane that has been converted into a flying hospital, with medical equipment and hospital beds.

The SAS flight crew on these operations are dedicated and trained for these challenging tasks, where most of the cabin attendants have nursing background and expertise in trauma treatment. The planning and preparations of this type of flight operations require high degree of experience and professionalism, involving a wide range of subject areas and departments in the airline.

About the aircraft: 18 hospital beds and 39 regular seats with the current configuration. The configuration can be changed, depending on the nature of the assignment. The plane can have 6 different configurations, where you can adjust the number of stretchers and seats. The configuration that the aircraft has as of February 2024 is the most used, with 39 seats and 18 hospital beds of which 3 are for intensive care patients.

SAS’ MEDEVAC aircraft lands at OSL on February 01, 2024, after its 100th evacuation mission on behalf of the Norwegian Defense and Directorate of Health. Photo: Frederik Ringnes, Norwegian Defense (Forsvaret)

These MEDEVAC operations have been ongoing for over 25 years, with missions such as the tsunami in Thailand, the terrorist attack in In Amenas, Algeria and evacuation missions from Afghanistan, Moira refugee camp and Ukraine. It takes 24 hours to convert the plane from a passenger plane to a hospital plane.

At the moment the aircraft is used in a Ukraine mission a contract was extended until November 2024.

Ukraine mission - Evacuating victims of war from Ukraine

The Ukraine mission is part of the EU's civil protection mechanism and takes place through a long-term agreement with the Norwegian Armed Forces and the Norwegian Directorate of Health. SAS personnel on these flights are dedicated and trained for challenging assignments, and most have a nursing background and expertise in trauma treatment.

Over 2,000 wounded and critically ill patients from Ukraine have so far been evacuated with SAS' MEDEVAC aircraft. The war victims are transported from an evacuation center in Poland to hospitals across Europe.

The collaboration is unique, and SAS and the Norwegian Armed Forces have operated near-weekly flights since mid-2022.

Inside SAS’ MEDEVAC aircraft, a Boeing 737-700 converted from commercial purpose into a ‘flying hospital’. Foto: SAS

Flight captain Lorentzen Ludvig (left) and Purser Ulrich Schieren from SAS, with Norway’s Minister of Defense Bjørn Arild Gram (right). Photo: Frederik Ringnes, Norwegian Defense (Forsvaret)

Troop Commander Oleksandr Vlasenko is one of several hundred patients evacuated to Norway for treatment. Photo: Frederik Ringnes, Norwegian Defense (Forsvaret)

Foto: Philip Gundersen, SAS