Always on call: Supporting global customers' pandemic response

As COVID-19 continues to spread, Boeing's people and products are helping provide aid through relief efforts.

April 09, 2020 in Community

C-17 Globemaster III

In February, the Indian Air Force mobilized elements of its C-17 fleet and Boeing-provided services support programs for a medical mission to repatriate 112 Indian citizens and foreign nationals from the Wuhan district in China, where the earliest outbreak of the virus emerged. The C-17 also delivered about 15 tons (33,069 pounds) of medical equipment and relief supplies to Wuhan. Another coronavirus mission conducted by one of India’s C-17 aircraft successfully evacuated 58 Indian citizens from Iran.

"We’re always on call to support the Indian Air Force in their C-17 missions," said Ajay Anand, site lead for Boeing C-17 field operations at Air Force Station, Hindan. "It’s a matter of great honor for us to support India as it provides humanitarian assistance during this challenging time of the COVID-19 pandemic."

The U.S. Air Force also completed several critical missions with its C-17 fleet, including a recent transport of 500,000 coronavirus test swabs from Italy to the United States. Boeing supports and sustains the full global C-17 fleet under a performance-based logistics contract with the U.S. Air Force, working in close partnership to keep the fleet mission-ready. As part of a U.S. C-17 mission to bring the U.S. women’s football team home from Honduras, Boeing engineers were called upon to assess and quickly address pre-flight check errors on the return flight. With guidance from Boeing, the Air Force got the aircraft ready for a safe flight home, and completed its mission.

The Globemaster’s most recent coronavirus relief operation was supported by NATO, dispatching the aircraft to deliver 45 tons (99,208 pounds) of protective suits to Romania. Boeing employees also support eight C-17 fleets in allied countries, including NATO’s Strategic Airlift Capability in Papa, Hungary, where they recently deployed on a third C-17 mission to South Korea to retrieve protective equipment for medical first responders.

KC-767 Tanker

The Italian Air Force also partners with Boeing through a comprehensive PBL to ensure the country’s KC-767A Tanker fleet is fully operational when called upon for rapid deployment, and the aircraft and its support team have met the challenge time and again throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since February, the KC-767A Italy Tanker has completed multiple aid missions, safely carrying both people and medical supplies to global destinations. The aircraft and its aircrew delivered vital respiratory assistance devices from Cologne, Germany, to Italy’s Pratica di Mare Air Base, and another operation brought medical supplies from Istanbul, Turkey, to Milan’s Malpensa Airport to support the hospitals in Northern Italy. The fleet has conducted multiple repatriation flights since the beginning of the outbreak, safely transporting individuals from regions hit hard by the virus so they could be quarantined and cared for.

With the Boeing team stationed alongside the customer at Pratica di Mare, the aircraft were quickly converted to accommodate specific mission requirements. In addition to the aid provided by Boeing’s defense and services teams, technical support on cabin air filtration and post-flight aircraft decontamination procedures were also requested and provided by Boeing’s commercial team.

Team members supporting Italian Air Force operations onsite at the Pratica di Mare base reflect on their mission critical work.

"Even if we are working under very difficult circumstances, our Boeing team is relentlessly supporting the Italian Air Force in executing its critical COVID-19 missions," said the team. "We spare no effort with exceptional attention to our customer needs, but also with an enormous consideration on personnel safety and health in order to protect our families, our colleagues and our community."