Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance charity have formally accepted the new, state-of-the-art Agusta Westland 169 helicopter to become its workhorse of the skies above the county this year.
The charity will now have a £2.3million a year target to raise to keep it in the skies.
Chief Executive Karen Jobling and joint chairman of the Board of Trustees Jack O’Hern travelled to Vergiate in Italy to formally accept the AW169, from AgustaWestland yesterday (Tuesday).
“It has been really amazing to finally see our new Ambucopter and to come out to the factory in Italy where it has been built. Our pilots have recently been here training and converting onto the AW169, and now seeing it come off the production line we’re looking forward to it flying back to the UK and becoming operational,” said Karen Jobling.
“The new helicopter will be in the same emergency yellow as our current helicopter, which the people of Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire recognise as their air ambulance. Beyond the colour however, the aircraft is quite different. The AW169 has a significantly larger cabin area which will give our Critical Care Team 360-degree access to the patient, to provide time-critical medical treatment during flight if needed.
“The AW169 is faster, meaning we can reach patients, hospitals and major trauma centres more quickly. It can also fly further before it needs to be refuelled, which will allow us to deploy from one mission to the next without returning to base to refuel.”
Jack O’Hern said: “When the Board of Trustees were first presented with the information on the new top-of-the-range AW169, it was clear to see that this helicopter would be at the forefront of Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) operations and would enable the Lincs and Notts Air Ambulance to provide the best possible critical care to its patients. This advancement in the service to patients means that the charity now needs to raise in excess of £2.3million each year to support our lifesaving work.”
The new aircraft will fly back to the UK very soon, but it will be a little while longer before people will see it taking to the skies.
First stop is for a custom built medical fit to ensure that all of the state-of-the-art medical equipment is laid out properly, before it is finally delivered to mission headquarters at RAF Waddington later this summer.
To find out more information on this go to www.ambucopter.org.uk, follow @LNAACT on Twitter or like facebook.com/ambucopter