The Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance Trust (KSSAAT) has selected an AW169 helicopter to perform emergency medical service missions. The aircraft will be operated by Gloucestershire-based Specialist Aviation Services (SAS). KSSAAT is at present the only air ambulance in the UK to fly around the clock, and it will be the first HEMS customer to bring the AW169 into UK service in autumn 2015.
The AW169 was chosen for its superior mission capabilities and safety features, which are expected to increase mission effectiveness in life-saving duties. SAS placed an order for six aircraft in 2012.
SAS md Henk Schaeken says: “We selected the AW169 two years ago at the Farnborough International Air Show, as it offered the best capabilities and performance in its class and we felt that it could greatly enhance operations for our customers.
“This decision by KSSAAT supports our early commitment to the type and strengthens the long-standing and excellent relationship between our organisations. We are engaging with them in defining the final aircraft configuration and medical fit, which will be designed to meet their requirements and expand the medical capabilities they bring to the incident scene.”
Adds KSSAAT ceo Adrian Bell: “We have been operating a 24/7 HEMS for over a year now and we have learned many things from night flying. One very clear lesson is that we need to replace one of our older MD902 aircraft and increase our overall aviation capability for the longer term benefit of our patients.
“We have therefore undertaken an exhaustive review of all relevant aircraft types and the AW169 is the only helicopter that fully meets our increasingly demanding clinical and operational requirements.”
He was impressed with the specification of the aircraft: “We based our decision on aircraft per-formance, safety features, payload, cabin size and design, and its many advanced features which will allow us to change the way we operate in a manner that will greatly benefit the patients we carry.”