Orbis MD-10 Flying Eye Hospital

Orbis MD-10 Flying Eye Hospital. Image: Richard Jorgenson via Orbis

APEX Insight: Orbis International, a non-profit organization dedicated to saving sight worldwide and APEX’s official partner charity, unveiled its third-generation Flying Eye Hospital at Los Angeles International Airport yesterday. LIFT and Zodiac Aerospace are two of the many APEX members who have contributed to this initiative.

Orbis International, a non-profit organization dedicated to saving sight worldwide and APEX’s official partner charity, unveiled its third-generation Flying Eye Hospital at Los Angeles International Airport yesterday. Bob Ranck, president and CEO, Orbis International, and Cindy Crawford, who visited the second-generation Flying Eye Hospital in Peru in September 2014, were among those who spoke at the launch of the world’s only mobile ophthalmic teaching hospital on board an MD-10 aircraft.

“Our mission at Orbis is to bring the world together to fight blindness, as we believe that no one should go blind from conditions that are treatable or preventable,” said Ranck. “The Flying Eye Hospital helps us do that. It is in equal parts teacher, envoy and advocate. We harness this powerful tool for change to support long-term programs around the world.”

The third-generation Flying Eye Hospital, which includes a 46-seat classroom, sterilization room and operating room, features 3D technology and live broadcast capabilities so that students can observe surgeries from the doctor’s point-of-view, in real time. According to Ranck, “the airflow, temperature and humidity on board are regulated according to hospital standards.” Over the past five years, Orbis has facilitated screenings and eye exams either on the Flying Eye Hospital or at Orbis’ in-country partner hospitals.

Orbis Flying Eye Hospital

Dr. Andrea Molinari, a long-time Orbis volunteer faculty member from Quito, Ecuador, leads a trainee through a bimedial rectus recession strabismus procedure in the operating room on board the second-generation Flying Eye Hospital. Image: Geoff Bugbee via Orbis

LIFT and Zodiac Aerospace are two of the many APEX members who were involved with this initiative. We contacted them in advance of the launch to find out how and why they contributed.

When Daniel Baron, managing director, LIFT Strategic Design, spotted the second-generation DC-10 Flying Eye Hospital at the Hong Kong International Airport in 2010, he felt that the simple livery was a “missed opportunity” and offered to donate a new design. LIFT ended up providing livery design for both second- and third- generation Flying Eye Hospitals and contributing to the cabin design of the MD-10.

“The MD-10 livery features a band of gray gently rising from the belly to the rear of the fuselage, representing a journey from vision impairment to sight and hope,” said Baron. “Dark blue on the tail, the Orbis brand color, extends down to the fuselage. Light blue is used where the two colors intersect, symbolizing the extraordinary contributions made by the volunteer physicians and pilots who make each program possible.”

“The MD-10 livery features a band of gray gently rising from the belly to the rear of the fuselage, representing a journey from vision impairment to sight and hope.” — Daniel Baron, LIFT Strategic Design

Baron’s visit to the DC-10 to speak with staff about the challenges they faced working long days in a small space during a mission in Indonesia informed certain cabin design choices for the MD-10. The floor is carpeted in the laser treatment room to prevent damage to lenses if they fall. Meanwhile, non-textile flooring, typically found in galleys and lavatories, was used for the long corridor in order to brighten up the space.

Zodiac Aerospace supported the third-generation Flying Eye Hospital by donating galley insert equipment, such as coffee makers, refrigerators and oxygen equipment. “[Orbis] is a well-established charity, with an aviation component, that is doing noble and remarkable work globally, in the poorest countries,” said Thomas Lee, Zodiac Aerospace’s vice-president of Product Marketing, who participated in an Orbis mission to Panama in 2013. “The Flying Eye Hospital makes it possible to not only perform surgeries on many of the most difficult eye cases, but also teach local doctors and nurses in their countries about the latest surgical techniques and equipment.”

“[Orbis] is a well-established charity, with an aviation component, that is doing noble and remarkable work globally, in the poorest countries.” — Thomas Lee, Zodiac Aerospace

After its showcase in Los Angeles, the MD-10, which was donated by FedEx, will visit New York, Washington, D.C., Memphis, Dallas and Sacramento before conducting its inaugural program in Shenyang, China, this September. Around the same time, the retired DC-10 second-generation Flying Eye Hospital will be open to the public at the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.

Kristina is digital editor of APEX Media. Plane and simple.