Thanks to the support of the people and businesses of Essex and Hertfordshire, the Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Trust (EHAAT) has reached a milestone in its fundraising – enabling the charity to purchase its own helicopter for the first time in its 20 year history.
Today (30 March 2016) Rob Forsyth, Chair of Trustees at EHAAT signed the contract with aircraft operator, Medical Aviation Services (MAS) to secure the purchase and operation of the £6 million Agusta Westland AW169 – the leading edge helicopter for emergency medical service operations.
A 10-year contract to lease an MD902 Explorer was also approved. The life-saving Charity takes possession of both aircraft early next year and will be ready to fly in June 2017 as the leases on its current aircraft come to an end. [Editor note – Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Trust currently operates two MD902s]
The purchase was made possible thanks to the support given to the Charity by the people and businesses of Essex & Hertfordshire, supported by the Charity’s successful bid for £1.5 million from the Government’s Libor fund.
Rob Forsyth, Chair said: “We simply couldn’t have reached this magnificent milestone were it not for the tremendous support we receive from the people and businesses of Essex and Hertfordshire. The new Agusta Westland AW169 will truly be their aircraft and we look forward to unveiling the new helicopter once it’s equipped, branded and ready to fly with us next summer. “The Libor funding gave us the extra support we needed to secure the purchase and so a huge thank you to everyone involved.”
The Agusta Westland AW169 will be the most advanced aircraft flying within the East of England region’s air ambulance services. Ideally suited to life-saving missions, it offers the maximum internal cabin space for crew, patients so that, even whilst flying, the Pre-Hospital Care Doctors and Critical Care Paramedics will have full access to the patient if necessary.
It’s also capable of night flying, giving the Charity the capability, if necessary, to broaden its service into the hours of darkness over the coming years.
The AW169 also boasts an Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) to run clinical equipment on the ground, including the illumination of the cabin to assist crews whilst working, and Digital Automatic Flight Control to boost safety.
Cliff Gale, Operations Director, said: “It became clear when we examined the costs to lease aircraft that over a 10 year period the Trust could save a considerable amount of money by purchasing an aircraft. This would also give us an asset still worth several million pounds at the end of a 10-year contract period which could be used to purchase a replacement aircraft and will save money on lease costs.”
The procurement process began in July 2014 to ensure the selection, equipping and branding of new aircraft could be achieved in time for June 2017 and that sufficient reserves would be in place to finance the purchase. Trustees approved the decision to purchase the new helicopter in December 2015.
Clive Gilham, EHAAT Finance Director said: “Over recent years we have achieved continued financial progress, not least with the robust reserves position achieved. The nature of our service delivery, involving helicopters and clinical experts, requires substantial funding and so we needed adequate cash reserves to both protect the service and indeed to enable us to expand it too. The current financial year will show further good progress with increasing reserves such that we can not only purchase the planned new helicopter but actively seek to extend our hours of operation.”
Investment into newgeneration aircraft will enhance the Charity’s Air Ambulance provision both operationally and clinically and will bring huge benefits to the people of Essex, Hertfordshire and surrounding areas.
Both aircraft will be flown and maintained by Medical Aviation Services (MAS) which has been working in partnership with EHAAT for the last ten years. Henk Schaeken, Managing Director of MAS, added: “EHAAT has selected the latest and best possible aircraft available and we are delighted to be able to continue our partnership with them. The Agusta Westland AW169 will ensure the Charity’s Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) crews will be able to provide an even greater level of service to the people of Essex and Hertfordshire.”
The Agusta Westland 169 will arrive in the UK in early 2017 and will commence flying from June 2017.
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