Chinook Central to Boeing’s Contribution to the UK’s Coronavirus Response

UK Royal Air Force and Boeing employees print face mask parts

May 11, 2020 in Community

Simon O’Brien, an analyst at Boeing’s Portal in Hampshire, has been mobilized as an aviation planner for the RAF’s Joint Helicopter Command.

Photo courtesy: Simon O’Brien

Boeing teams across the UK are working with the Armed Forces to support the UK government's COVID-19 response.

The Chinook Force, a multi-role helicopter fleet based at RAF (Royal Air Force) Odiham and RAF Benson, has been called upon to support the military's response to the COVID-19 crisis. The reliable medium-to-heavy lift helicopter has been tasked to move supplies and people across the UK.

As one of the most iconic helicopters of the modern age, the twin-rotor Chinook is also acting as an air ambulance to transfer patients. Boeing employees in the UK are working side-by-side their RAF counterparts to ensure mission readiness.

At RAF Odiham's Chinook Support Centre (CSC), a joint RAF and Boeing team are using a 3-D printer to manufacture and distribute supportive clips to NHS workers, to ease discomfort caused by the protective face masks.

In some cases, Boeing employees are taking one step further and responding to a call to join the Armed Forces as a Reservist in its response to the virus. Simon O'Brien, an analyst at Boeing's Portal in Hampshire, has been mobilized as an aviation planner for the RAF's Joint Helicopter Command. He is a member of Boeing Reservists and Veterans Organization (BRAVO) in the UK, the community that connects veterans, reserves and colleagues across Boeing UK.

O'Brien, who joined Boeing in 2017, spent nearly 35 years with the RAF as a Chinook crewman and instructor. In his role as a Reservist, he is ensuring the UK Armed Forces vertical lift capability is effectively supporting the distribution of supplies for the National Health Service.

"I felt it was hugely important to continue my commitment to serve my country, especially during times like this," said Simon. "My combined experience in the Royal Air Force and more recently at Boeing allows me to draw on the best of both to support the military's aviation efforts in response to COVID-19. I've received great support from Boeing, which allowed me to respond within days of receiving the call up."

The Chinook has served the UK Armed Forces for four decades, first arriving in service in November 1980. Since then it has served on overseas military operations both abroad and at home. It was recently recognized by the Vertical Flight Society for its work to repair Toddbrook Reservoir, which threatened to flood the small English town of Whaley Bridge.

Read more stories about our efforts to support our communities across the globe during COVID-19.