The UK air ambulance market is a mature one with very good coverage across the country. A total of 44 helicopters are flown for EMS work, supplemented by a handful of other aircraft for maintenance cover, together with a few fixed wing in certain situations including supporting the Channel Islands. Apart from two in Scotland, all UK air ambulance helicopters are charity-funded.
The operational model is a developing one, and a recent opinion article notes that there are now four operations which have their own AOC (Air Charter Certificate), a trend which we see increasing as that article proposes. The other operations rely on British commercial operators with an AOC. The two operators with the largest share are Babcock MCS Onshore and Specialist Aviation Services. Other operators are also making inroads in this market including Multiflight, Gama Aviation and Sloane Helicopters – the latter also flies the only reactive EMS service in Ireland.
Now this changes. In a move which will surprise many, German operator HeliService International have won the contract to operate the service for Lincolnshire & Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance. The operator is already on the UK CAA’s list of approved European operators who can fly commercially in the UK. HeliService will supply a Leonardo AW169 to replace LNAA’s existing aircraft.
CEO Karen Jobling said: “We’re pleased to have secured a partnership with HeliService which will begin in September. Our helicopter is the most valuable contract the charity has and so it’s one that we regularly review to ensure that we spend our funds wisely in order to secure the best service we can. LNAA will be HeliService’s first UK HEMS charity partner and we look forward to working together to provide the best service possible to our communities as we emerge from the pandemic and work towards fulfilling our strategic goal of providing critical care 24 hours a day, seven-days-a-week.”
HeliService Managing Partner, Oliver Freiland: “HeliService is proud to be selected to provide the flight operations to Lincolnshire & Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance. For HeliService it is an important milestone as we are entering the UK HEMS market. We thank Lincolnshire & Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance for their trust in HeliService and we will do our utmost to provide the very best service to the Charity and the people of Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire.”
It is worth noting that HeliService Managing Director Henk Schaeken previously held that position with Specialist Aviation Services, the provider and operator of LNAA’s helicopter from the charity’s inception. He joined HeliService in August 2019.