Coronavirus: Grounded planes in UK may be turned into intensive care units

It's reported airlines and authorities support the idea.
It's reported airlines and authorities support the idea. Photo credit: Getty Images

Airlines, airports and regulators have given their backing to a plan to turn large passenger aircraft currently grounded in the United Kingdom into intensive care wards during the coronavirus pandemic.

Between 100 to 150 beds could fit on each aircraft depending on the size of the jet according to Caircraft which has designed the new medical interior, and it is now waiting for government support for funding.

Caircraft, is made up of aviation economists, entrepreneurs and surgeons. It is also talking to the US government, Canada, Germany and Malaysia about the idea.

The group said UK airlines with parked-up widebody jets support the idea, however wouldn't give specifics as to which companies they'd spoken to. Reuters reports that British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, as well as a number of UK airports and the UK aviation regulator the CAA support the idea.

Britain is currently building field hospitals in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Cardiff to bolster its state-run National Health Service.

Under the Caircraft plans, which the group has been working on for a week, the aircraft would first fly to the place where they were to be needed, before being fitted out. They would not move once treating patients.

The group says the advantage of using planes is that not only are they mobile and there are plenty of them now available, but also that their filtered, one-way airflow systems mirror those of an operating theatre.

Caircraft would not comment on how much the repurposing of the aircraft would cost.