Designer of aircraft interiors specializes in lightweight cabins for air medical operators.

When it comes to helicopters, it’s no secret that the lighter the onboard equipment, the better. For operations that are particularly equipment heavy, such as air ambulance services, fractions of an ounce can make a difference.

In 1995, Aerolite AG of Ennetbürgen, Switzerland, set out to tackle the challenge of outfitting air ambulance and rescue helicopters with lightweight but effective interior equipment. Several skilled professionals experienced in designing and building medical interiors for BO105s and BK117s formed the Ennetbürgen, Switzerland–based company with a singular focus: applying lightweight-construction principles to develop functional and customizable air medical interiors.

An Airbus H145 medical interior from STARS in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Airbus Photo/Lyle Aspinall)

A High-Altitude Challenge
A defining moment for Aerolite came when a customer operating search-and-rescue and air ambulance missions in a high-altitude (11,000-ft.-plus) alpine environment needed a much lighter interior for a Bell 429 than what was available on the market at the time.

The company’s engineers focused on the “blood floor,” a component of air ambulance interiors that provides a sealed barrier between the cabin and the airframe to contain any spilled fluids. But weight was a concern. Traditionally made from aluminum, blood floors could weigh as much as 100 lb. To solve the problem, Aerolite engineers found a heavy-duty synthetic material used in aircraft galley floors and combined it with a composite core to create a new blood floor that weighed only 20 lb.

Beyond the Blood Floor
The company took what it learned in that process and began applying it throughout the aircraft, replacing heavy materials with carbon fiber where possible while also looking at other weight-saving options, including changing seats and reconfiguring passenger loads.

A part of Aerolite’s mission to lighten the aircraft interiors included boosting functionality and reducing workload by creating multifunctional components. One such creation was a lightweight aluminum stretcher bridge that holds medical devices, freeing up space inside the aircraft. Certified for takeoff and landing, the bridge allows medical crews to move the devices with the patient.

Interior of an Airbus H145 operator’s aircraft in Oulu, Finland. (Airbus Helicopters Photo/Nicolas Gouhier)

Global Expansion
Aerolite’s purchase of composite-technology manufacturer HS-Composite GmbH in 2020 has allowed the company to more cost-effectively design and manufacture composites while supporting other industries with composite design and production.

Today, nearly 650 Aerolite interiors are in operation worldwide, each one customized to an individual operator. Aerolite maintains an extensive catalog of interior options for the Airbus H135 and H145, Bell 429, and Leonardo AW109, AW139, AW169, and AW189, working individually with each customer to design and deliver the ideal solution. The company can perform completions for its customers or work directly with the customers’ own completion centers to provide training in installing Aerolite components.

In addition to its headquarters in Ennetbürgen, the company operates a US branch, Aerolite America, in Fort Mill, South Carolina.

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