Yorkshire Air Ambulance is to get two new helicopters by the end of summer 2023 – at a cost of £15.3 million.
The life-saving charity is to replace its current Airbus H145 D2 helicopters with the next generation aircraft.
The YAA will be the first organisation in the UK to receive the brand new five-bladed H145 D3 model.
Director of aviation Steve Waudby said: “Our two current helicopters, G-YAAC and G-YOAA, have served us well since 2016 and will continue to do so for another few years.
“However, the typical effective lifespan of an air ambulance helicopter is somewhere between seven to 10 years, so we are placing a timely order now for delivery in 2023, whilst taking advantage of early Airbus production line slots, as this helicopter has become very popular within the air ambulance community.
“There have also been a lot of advancements made to the H145 since we bought our current aircraft – both technically in the cockpit, and medically with regards to the equipment we carry.
“We had the choice to look at retrospectively fitting these technological advancements or upgrading to brand-new helicopters that include everything as part of their specification.
“Given the complexities of helicopter mechanics, we would have also faced a longer lead time with having everything retrospectively fitted rather than buying new, so it was sensible for the charity to upgrade the helicopters for new ones.”
The first of the two new helicopters is expected to arrive in Yorkshire in spring 2023 with the second following shortly after in summer 2023.
Steve added: “If we had taken the decision to retrospectively fit all the extra technology and equipment we needed, by the time that had been completed we’d have been at a point where we would have been starting to look at replacing our current helicopters.
“Bringing our plans forward by a year or two means we get best value, as well as bringing two even better state-of-the-art helicopters to the people of Yorkshire.”
Advancements to the new model includes a five-bladed rotor head which will provide a smoother flight for the crew and patients, on board wi-fi to allow patient records to be updated inflight, and a cutting-edge secure communications system which will allow the crew to send patient data ahead to their destination hospital, allowing doctors and nurses to start evaluating and assessing the patient before they arrive.
There will also be an improved medical fit alongside some of the most advanced and innovative equipment for treating patients at scene and in-flight.
The new helicopters, complete with full medical fit out, will cost approximately £15.3 million which is being funded through careful financial planning and reserves. The current aircraft will be sold to offset some of these costs.
Last October, the charity estimated that the lack of fundraising events, caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, had resulted in a £1.2 million loss of income.
YAA chairman Peter Sunderland said: “We have been financially planning for these replacements since G-YAAC and G-YOAA commenced their operations in 2016 and with prudent, planned savings, careful budgeting,and building our reserves we are now in a position to move forward.
“This has only been made possible through the generosity of individuals, groups, businesses and organisations whose support is so gratefully received.
“Our aim has always been to provide the people of Yorkshire with the best possible air ambulance service, and by upgrading our helicopters in 2023 we can continue to ensure we are future-proofing and modernising our operations.”
For further information about the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, please visit www.yaa.org.uk