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Virgin Atlantic is buying telemedicine machines that will help cabin staff diagnose sick passengers with the help of doctors on the ground.

The machines take blood pressure and pulse readings as well as video footage. This is sent back to the ground using Virgin's existing satellite phone system. The information goes to a medical centre in Arizona where doctors will diagnose the patient and advise Virgin cabin staff.

The box is called Tempus and is made by UK firm Remote Diagnostic Technologies. The deal covers fleet expansion until 2009.

Graham Murphy, managing director at RDT, said: "Virgin Atlantic was the first airline to introduce defibrillators across its fleet and, as with defibrillators, RDT anticipates that this technology will soon be adopted as industry standard.”

More on RDT website here.

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