IAI Aviation Group’s R&D switches gears to help battle COVID-19

As director of R&D of the aviation group, I would like to give a personal perspective of the specific work of the engineering division and the aviation group as a whole.

A patient suffering from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) wears a full-face Easybreath snorkelling mask given by sport chain Decathlon and turned into a ventilator for coronavirus treatment (photo credit: REUTERS/BENOIT TESSIER)
A patient suffering from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) wears a full-face Easybreath snorkelling mask given by sport chain Decathlon and turned into a ventilator for coronavirus treatment
(photo credit: REUTERS/BENOIT TESSIER)
The COVID-19 pandemic has created unique challenges for the world in general and for Israel in particular. Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has been called upon to help generate quick and reliable solutions. To this end, IAI is adapting its cutting-edge technologies used to design, develop and manufacture hi-tech aerospace systems to help fight the COVID-19 virus in parallel with extensive business work that is taking place. 
As news of the pandemic was breaking and government work restrictions were publicized, IAI fell under the category of a “critical industry.” 
With the lead of IAI CTO, all of IAI R&D Groups set in motion their most innovative and "out-of-the-box" engineers to adapt IAI state-of-the-art technologies to help fight this new enemy.
As director of R&D of the aviation group, I would like to give a personal perspective of the specific work of the engineering division and the aviation group as a whole. 
Remarkable work is being performed in the other IAI Groups as well. All IAI groups are giving 100% to try to help this cause. One example is the Elta Group, a world leader in radar systems, which is using its technology as a diagnostic system at hospital entrances. 
Another example is the work of the systems missiles and space group. In a matter of weeks, it established a manufacturing line for producing hundreds of critically needed ventilators with the Israeli company Inovytec under the guidance of the IMOD.
My own aviation group has also played an important role in these COVID-19 projects. I must preface with two important facts:
1) The aviation group has not been working in a vacuum. Daily meetings with hospital managers, cooperation with other IAI groups as well as synchronization with the Defense Ministry and the Israeli Corporations Authority all ensured efforts toward producing potentially useful projects.
2) The effort was bottom up. As director of R&D, it is important to note that before I could even prod my engineers into action, they were already hard at work coordinating activities at the hospitals as well as designing, manufacturing and testing prototypes
The first two developments are excellent examples of how ground-breaking technologies such as infrared signatures and ultraviolet (UV) rays were swiftly adapted to this new challenge:
A UV sterilization system to disinfect hospital rooms of the virus. The system is presently being tested in Yitzhak Shamir Medical Center (Assaf Harofeh) and Tel Aviv’s Sourasky Medical Center. System improvements are presently being made including integration of a robotic system to travel through the room
An Infrared-based system to check temperatures of crowds at the entrance to workplaces and hospitals. 
The air emitted from the ventilators may be contaminated, and thus a prototype sterilization system is presently being tested in one of the hospitals.
A ventilation helmet was produced per hospital requests using also 3D printed parts as well as other materials.
These 3D printing experts are working on approximately 15 necessary spare parts defined by the hospitals.
 Integrated command and control of all critical ICU equipment is being developed using smart, user-friendly displays, and intelligent monitoring of possible anomalies. This is in development at Soraka Hospital.
We are working together with the MABAT division to ensure a successful manufacturing line for producing hundreds of ventilators.
Preparation is underway for a DDS (Doomsday solution) ventilator. Although this ventilator may not get proper certification, within a few weeks, this group produced a working ventilator from off-the-shelf available parts. We all hope this device will not be needed, but if it is, many people will be grateful that it is obtainable.
We are adapting a "short term" ventilator in the ambulances into a more permanent usable ventilator.
We are developing an innovative "air-bag" system to help turn an anesthetized and ventilated patient .
Israeli scientific ingenuity has long been recognized to be on a world-class level. It is gratifying for me, along with the rest of the IAI management, to witness the implementation of expertise in so many areas to help the worldwide effort in combating the COVID-19 pandemic.
The writer is the director of R&D, IAI Aviation Group.