FEATURE: New and faster ambucopter is flying on over

Karen Jobling, Chief Executive of Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance, and Jack OHern, joint chairman of Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance Board of Trustees, with the AW169 EMN-160607-140012001
Karen Jobling, Chief Executive of Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance, and Jack OHern, joint chairman of Lincs & Notts Air Ambulance Board of Trustees, with the AW169 EMN-160607-140012001

A new state-of-the-art air ambulance will soon be seen flying in the skies above Lincolnshire.

Last Wednesday, the Lincs and Notts Air Ambulance charity received an AgustaWestland 169 ambucopter in a formal ceremony in Italy.

Chief executive of the charity, Karen Jobling, and joint chairman of the board of trustees, Jack O’Hern, travelled to Vergiate to formally accept the AW169 from AgustaWestland.

Ms Jobling said it was ‘really amazing’ to finally see the new ambucopter, adding: “Our pilots have recently been here (Italy) training and converting onto the AW169. We’re looking forward to it flying back to the UK and becoming operational.

“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.

“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.

“Beyond the colour however, the aircraft is quite different. 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.”

The new ambucopter will fly back to the UK very soon, but it will be a little while longer before the people of Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire see it in the skies. It will require a custom-built medical fit to ensure that all the medical equipment is laid out properly before it is finally delivered to mission headquarters at RAF Waddington later this summer.

Mr 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 operations and would enable the Lincs and Notts Air Ambulance to provide the best possible critical care to its patients.”

Ambucopter factfile:

○ The AW169 is leased from Specialist Aviation Services - it will replace the current MD 902 Explorer helicopter.

○ The AW169 has a maximum cruising speed of 185mph.

○ The ambucopter service began operating in April 1994 and has been called upon for more than 17,200 missions.

○ On average the air ambulance is called upon for two to three missions a day.

○ The air ambulance service is based at a purpose-built site at RAF Waddington.

○ Lincs and Notts Air Ambulance needs to raise £2.3 million each year to keep the ambucopter flying.