Devon Air Ambulance "DAA", which runs the EMS coverage in UK's county of Devon, was one of the earliest to take to the air in the UK nad has been one of the most successful too. DAA currently operate two EC135s, a 2003-build EC135T2 leased from Bond Air Services and a newer EC135T2+ which the charity bought themselves, which was launched in September 2008. The operation has two bases, one at the Devon & Cornwall Police headquarters on the outskirts of Exeter and a second in the north of the county at Eaglescott Aerodrome.
The Trust has confirmed to HeliHub.com that they have recently placed an order for a new EC135, to come online in July 2013. This will replace the leased aircraft, which is due back to Bond the next month. DAAT are in the rare position of being able to compare the running costs of two helicopters, one owned and one leased, and they have saved £12,000 (approx US$19,350 at today's rates) per month merely by owning one aircraft. it was thus perfectly logical that when the lease expired, the charity would purchase a new aircraft to replace it. Their charity appeal is currently £289,000 (US$466,000) short of what they require, but they are confident of reaching this, and their campaign is heavily promoted by the local BBC Radio Devon.
The unusual aspect, though, is their choice of engine supplier. CUrrently operating two Turbomeca powered EC135s, it is thus a surprise that they have gone for a Pratt & Whitney aircraft - the result of much number-crunching, as well as many questions by their maintenance team! This echos the police market too - the early years of the EC135 in the UK were all Turbomeca aircraft. West Midlands Police broke the tradition in 2007 with the first P2+ in the UK, followed by neighbouring East Midlands. A bulk order of six EC135s (see HeliHub.com story) by a consortium of police forces also went for the P&W power. Devon Air Ambulance will be the first P&W powered EC135 in the UK Air Ambulance market.
Jeremy Parkin - HeliHub.com
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