L-R: Dr Omar Najim, AD DoH; Andrea Scammacca, B Medical; Jesal Doshi, B Medical; Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Hamed, DoH; Dr Nadia Al Bastaki, Etihad Aviation Group; Tim Isik, Etihad Cargo; Lubna AlLaha, Etihad Cargo; Fabrice Panza, Etihad Cargo; Credit: B Medical Systems

Etihad Aviation Group has entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with B Medical Systems, a Luxembourg-based manufacturer and global distributor of medical refrigeration devices, to develop and launch an airline-specific passive temperature-controlled solution for the transportation of life-saving drugs, vaccines and high-value pharmaceuticals.

Etihad Cargo will collaborate with B Medical Systems to develop more sustainable temperature-controlled container units that work on a passive cooling technology. The units will retain temperatures from -80 to 25 degrees Celsius for up to five days without requiring an external power source, with load capabilities ranging from two to 1,500 litres. Through the reduction in power needed to maintain the temperature for temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical shipments, these units will significantly reduce carbon emissions. Further adding to the sustainability of the containers, their robust design and multi-use capabilities enable an operational life of over ten years. B Medical Systems' current product portfolio includes products that use solar energy as well as green refrigerants.

The MoU was announced during the BIO International Convention, which is taking place in San Diego in the United States (US) from 13 to 16 June 2022.

Martin Drew, Etihad Aviation Group's Senior Vice President – Sales & Cargo, said: "While other traditional active container providers are offering containers fit for multi-modal transportation, Etihad Cargo is the first airline globally to collaborate with a partner in the development and launch of sustainable units specifically tailored to air transportation. Partnering with B Medical Systems is the latest step by Etihad Cargo to achieve its sustainability targets. By replacing legacy active cold chain air transportation containers with aviation-specific units that consume less energy, Etihad Cargo is future-proofing the transportation of pharmaceuticals, providing a better solution for Etihad Cargo's customers, the aviation industry and the environment".

Jesal Doshi, Deputy CEO of B Medical Systems, commented: "Our mission at B Medical Systems is to create technology that helps save lives across the world. Transportation of temperature-sensitive specimens needs a robust cold chain. Etihad Cargo's operational knowledge along with our expertise in creating quality medical cold chain solutions will enable us to develop aviation-specific sustainable units for the safe, effective, and environmentally friendly transportation of temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals and specimens".

Trials of the sustainable container units will commence shortly and a commercial launch date will be announced following the successful completion of the trials.

Under the leadership of the Abu Dhabi Department of Health (AD DoH) and the participation of Etihad Cargo alongside other key partners in the Emirate, Abu Dhabi established the HOPE Consortium in 2020 to provide one of the most capable and effective vaccine supply chains in the world. Since its establishment, the HOPE Consortium has distributed and transported more than 260 million vaccines to 60 countries. More recently, Abu Dhabi has strengthened its capabilities as a life sciences hub through a pharma collaboration with Belgium, a leading global pharmaceutical hub, establishing a global distribution corridor between Abu Dhabi and Brussels to serve the world in vaccine delivery and future life science needs.