Midlands Air Ambulance has purchased outright the service’s first helicopter, which will be based at the RAF Cosford airbase in Shropshire.
As the UK’s largest and busiest air ambulance service, Midlands Air Ambulance currently leases three EC135 helicopters from Bond Air Services, which are situated at RAF Cosford in Shropshire, Tatenhill in Staffordshire and Strensham in Worcestershire. It will be replacing the RAF Cosford aircraft with a new EC135T2e helicopter, which will be operational from the RAF Cosford airbase in March 2014.
The helicopter was initially built at Eurocopter in Germany and was delivered to Bond Air Services in Staverton in December 2013. While at Bond Air Services it is being painted and fitted with pre-hospital medical equipment, plus additional equipment for potential night flying between lit helipads and night Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) operations.
Wiltshire Air Ambulance Charitable Trust has signed a 10-year contract with Heli Charter Ltd for a new helicopter, which will come into service at the end of the year, when the lease on the current 12-year-old aircraft expires. The charity’s trustees selected a Bell 429, which is the world’s newest and most advanced light twin-engine helicopter in service, equipped with the latest in flight technology. Prior to delivery the aircraft will be fitted out with the most recent Aerolite equipment to meet the highest helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) specification.
The Wiltshire helicopter will be the first Bell 429 to operate as an air ambulance in the UK. It has a top speed of 150 knots and a range of 400 miles making rapid response to any incident within the county achievable within minutes.
The charity spent nearly two years reviewing its options as soon as it became clear that the current partnership with Wiltshire Police would terminate at the end of 2014, when they are mandated to use aircraft provided by the National Police Air Service.