East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA), the UK HEMS charity, has strengthened its operation at Cambridge City airport with the construction of a new hangar for its Airbus H145 helicopter. The helicopter hangar for the Anglia Two aircraft is next to the charity's operational base and will mean that the aircraft no longer needs to be towed across the airport at the start and end of each shift, a process that has been taking 15 minutes each way.
This means the life-saving crews, which cover Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Suffolk and Norfolk, will be online half an hour extra every day, providing an additional 180 hours of potential flying time every year as a result of building the hangar.
Ops director Matthew Jones says: “Half an hour of extra flight time a day may not seem like a huge increase, but we're really pleased to have been able to construct this new hangar to give us the maximum response time possible. That half an hour could make a huge difference to someone who needs our help and be the difference between life or death in some situations. Having a designated hangar next to the base will also be of huge benefit to our pilots during periods of bad weather and will cut down immensely on their workload at the start and end of the day, meaning they can focus more on being online and ready to respond to an emergency.”
Due to the future changes coming up at the airport, the hangar had to be movable and able to be dismantled and rebuilt in a different location in the future, if required.
Jones continues: “There has been a lot to think about in the build up to this project, mainly the cost and practicality of construction. We were very fortunate to qualify for a one-off government grant to cover the main cost of the build and to find a design that met all of our requirements. This has been a challenging project to undertake under the current circumstances and has been affected by both the pandemic and Brexit, but now it's up and running, and we're really pleased with the extra flight time and added functionality it gives us here at Cambridge.”
Designed by Austrian company FabSpace, the new hangar provides everything the charity needs while not being a permanent structure. It has a metal frame that has been securely anchored down by 75cm long pegs, then covered with a strong, durable fabric. It uses highly-sophisticated engineering to provide the functionality and safety of an aircraft hangar while essentially being a very large and sophisticated tent. Aesthetically, it also provides a very modern looking design.
EAAA has been operating one of its yellow helicopters from Cambridge airport since 2007. In 2016, the charity upgraded and relocated its Cambridge operating base further airside at the airport; however, this did not include moving the aircraft hangar as well.
Now, the charity is pleased to have been able to realise its long-term ambition of building a dedicated aircraft hangar next to the Cambridge operating base, providing multiple benefits for the life-saving crews and strengthening the life-saving operation at Cambridge to better serve Cambridgeshire and the surrounding counties.