The Children's Air Ambulance issued a press release last week, and after we scanned through it, we rejected it as it did not appear much of an aviation story. On the face of it, the central theme was the appointment of a brand ambassador - a 54 year old music star whose success started to wane before he was 30.
The Children's Air Ambulance is part of the grandly named "The Air Ambulance Service" (TAAS) which in reality has operated two AW109s, one covering Warwickshire & Northamptonshire, and the other in Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland. TAAS is a controversial organisation in UK air ambulance circles as they have gone against the way that all other units are set up and started to fund-raise nationally for The Children's Air Ambulance (TCAA). With one exception, all other areas of England and Wales that have an EMS helicopter are charities that fundraise in a coverage area which they have to themselves - the exception is in Cumbria which both the North West Air Ambulance and Great North Air Ambulance claim to serve. Along comes the TCAA and fundraises all over the place, using the "children" aspect to pull at heart strings and potentially take charitable donations away from the local charities.
Yes, we noticed that TAAS had repainted the tail boom on one of their two existing AW109s, but we had not realised that they had added a third AW109 to the operation. At no point in their press release did they state that there was a dedicated aircraft for The Children's Air Ambulance, but that is indeed how it turns out.
TAAS have now contracted with Sloane Helicopters for a third AW109 from 31st October, with the addition of AW109E Power G-MEDX to the fleet, based at East Midlands Airport. The other Power G-RSCU and the re-liveried AW109S Grand for TCAA (see below) are based at Coventry.
Jeremy Parkin - HeliHub.com
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