The M28 short take-off and landing (STOL) aircraft have been intensively operated by the Polish Armed Forces for nearly three decades now. The Polish Air Force has 38 M28 aircraft at its disposal. The military M28 perform diverse missions such as surveillance, cargo transportation, military parachuting, search and rescue as well as time-sensitive transportation of medical crews and transplants - the Operation Heart.
Since the launch of the “Operation Heart” (Polish: Akcja Serce) in 1988, the Polish Air Force and Navy have completed several thousand flight hours, therefore saving lives of several hundred people.
The transportation services are provided for seven Polish organ transplant clinics. The Air Force support shortens the distance between transplant donors and recipients and thus the time needed for efficient organ transportation. The airlift support is governed by the agreement between The Polish Ministries of Health and Defence.
The humanitarian activity reached its pinnacle in the 1990s, when the total annual flight hours varied between 150-200. Over the last four years the Polish Air Force operated 89 flights. The flights therein include 52 operated on the M28 aircraft. There is a high chance that by the end of the year, the Polish military pilots will have completed 150 annual flight hours transporting the organs and medical crews. If so, this year’s result will turn out to be the highest than the ones from the last couple of years.
Initially, the emergency flights were operated as rescue missions. Today, the operations are often performed during night-time, low cloud base, rainfall or severe icing and usually consist of several stages. The adverse weather conditions, however, do not prevent M28’s crew from getting airborne. The aircraft is perfectly adaptable to diverse conditions and can be operated whenever and wherever your mission takes you. There were also cases of urgent transportation of specialist equipment along with surgeons to Poland’s neighbouring countries.
The Operation Heart constitutes a perfect example of M28’s versatility, multi-mission profile and long-range capability.