Air travel is about to get just a little bit safer -- though not in the anti-terrorist, heavy-handed security
type of way -- thanks to Virgin Atlantic's impending fleet-wide rollout of a device that allows ground-based doctors to remotely diagnose passengers in medical distress. The airline has just announced a deal with Remote Diagnostic Technologies that will result in each of Virgin's planes being outfitted with the Tempus telemedicine system, which contains blood pressure and pulse monitors along with an integrated video cam, and transmits data down to medical personnel via the on-board telephone system. Flight crews will be trained to independently operate each of Tempus' individual instruments, but unlike the in-flight defibrillators that preceded this system, attendants will have the added benefit of live instructions from experts on the ground, if necessary. Virgin will employ the Tempus boxes until at least 2009, and claims that it would like to eventually see an industry-wide implementation, which RDT probably wouldn't mind too much either.