Skip to main content


Former U.S. Air Force Surgeon General is part of the project team. Royal Canadian Air Force is first to acquire new life-saving technology.


Contact the panelist

San Antonio, TX: Knight Aerospace has developed and begun production of the world’s first air-worthy and completely self-contained medical unit for transporting critically ill or contagious patients by air.

The company’s specialized modules, known as Aeromedical Bio-Containment Evacuation Systems (ABES),  are quickly rolled onto cargo planes where they are immediately activated as mobile emergency rooms. The units have can be equipped with a full range of features—including surgery capabilities—so medical teams can stabilize and treat up to 12 patients while in flight. The ABES units are also equipped with negative air pressurization—a feature that allows for the safe transport of passengers affected by COVID-19 or other highly contagious diseases without contaminating the aircraft or potentially infecting the air crew.


Earlier this month, the Royal Canadian Air Force purchased the first ABES unit, which is currently under construction at the company’s San Antonio facility. Knight Aerospace is also engaging the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and numerous other foreign governments, and non-government organizations (NGO’s) interested in the new technology as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Retired Lt. Gen. Dr. Paul K. Carlton, who also served as the U.S. Air Force’s Surgeon General from 1999 to 2002, has advised Knight Aerospace engineers over many years as the company designed and developed the new technology. Carlton is a top authority who had led numerous high-profile military and civilian emergency medical operations, including during Operation Desert Storm and in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

He and other San Antonio innovators recently discussed how lessons learned from his previous experiences have informed the development of the new technology as a part of a global response to the growing threat of pandemics and large natural disasters.

Other panelists include:

  • Bianca Rhodes, President and CEO, Knight Aerospace
  • Jenna Saucedo-Herrera, President and CEO, San Antonio Economic Development Foundation
  • Jim Perschbach, President and CEO, Port San Antonio—the large technology innovation campus where Knight is based.


Rendering of the ABES interior—medical units that allow aircraft to function as emergency rooms / ICU’s that stabilize and treat patients as they are being evacuated. (Courtesy Knight Aerospace)



Knight Aerospace’s units can be quickly loaded and quickly transform the interior and uses of heavy cargo aircraft. Shown here is a Knight Aerospace’s Modular systems that have been approved airworthy to transport people on the C-130(J) and C17 aircraft.(Courtesy Knight Aerospace)

ABOUT KNIGHT AEROSPACE: Founded in San Antonio in 1992, Knight Aerospace is expanding its operation at Port San Antonio—the city’s 1,900-acre technology campus that allows firms like Knight to collaborate with area industries and develop innovative solutions in sectors that include aerospace, medicine, cybersecurity, robotics and others. The company now operates within a large specialized facility close to the Port’s industrial airport at Kelly Field where Knight manufactures, tests and delivers its products.

A woman and minority-owned small business, Knight Aerospace also builds enclosed passenger units for transporting world leaders, complete with command-and-control personnel systems and also provides support equipment for maintenance and repair of aircraft mechanical systems.

 Subscribe to the Port San Antonio newsletter  

* indicates required