UK aeromedical charity Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA) will be replacing its current Airbus H145 D2 helicopters with next generation aircraft by the end of summer 2023. YAA will be the first organisation in the UK to receive the brand new, five-bladed H145 D3 model.
The two current YAA helicopters, which came into service in 2016, will be replaced by a more advanced version of their current model, the Airbus H145. The decision to replace the helicopters has been made to ensure the people of Yorkshire receive the best operational and medical service from the life-saving charity.
Director of aviation Steve Waudby explains: “Our two current helicopters have served us well since 2016 and will continue to do so for another few years. However, the typical effective lifespan of an air ambulance helicopter is somewhere between seven to 10 years, so we are placing a timely order now for delivery in 2023, while taking advantage of early Airbus production line slots, as this helicopter has become very popular within the air ambulance community. There have also been a lot of advancements made to the H145 since we bought our current aircraft, both technically in the cockpit and medically with regards to the equipment we carry. We had the choice to look at retrospectively fitting these technological advancements or upgrading to brand-new helicopters that include everything as part of their specification. Given the complexities of helicopter mechanics, we would have also faced a longer lead time with having everything retrospectively fitted rather than buying new, so it was sensible for the charity to upgrade the helicopters for new ones.”
The first of the two new helicopters is expected to arrive in Yorkshire in spring 2023, with the second following shortly after in summer 2023.
Waudby continues: “If we had taken the decision to retrospectively fit all the extra technology and equipment we needed, by the time that had been completed we'd have been at a point where we would have been starting to look at replacing our current helicopters. Bringing our plans forward by a year or two means we get best value, as well as bringing two even better state-of-the-art helicopters to the people of Yorkshire.”
Advancements to the new model include a five-bladed rotor head, which will provide a smoother flight for the crew and patients, onboard wi-fi to allow patient records to be updated inflight and a secure communications system, which will allow the crew to send patient data ahead to their destination hospital, allowing doctors and nurses to start evaluating and assessing the patient before they arrive. There will also be an improved medical fit alongside some of the most advanced and innovative equipment for treating patients at scene and in-flight.
YAA chairman Peter Sunderland comments: “We are delighted to be able to announce our plans for these new helicopters. The H145 has become the most popular new aircraft globally, and we are very much looking forward to welcoming the two new models to Yorkshire in spring and summer of 2023. Our current H145 D2 helicopters have served us well, so there was no question about considering other makes or models; it is fast becoming the air-ambulance helicopter of choice within the air ambulance sector.
“We have been financially planning for these replacements since G-YAAC and G-YOAA commenced their operations in 2016 and with prudent, planned savings, careful budgeting and building our reserves we are now in a position to move forward. This has only been made possible through the generosity of individuals, groups, businesses and organisations whose support is so gratefully received. Our aim has always been to provide the people of Yorkshire and its visitors with the best possible air ambulance service, and by upgrading our helicopters in 2023 we can continue to ensure we are future-proofing and modernising our operations and service delivery.”
The new helicopters, complete with full medical fit out, will cost approximately 15.3 million pounds, which is being funded through careful financial planning and reserves. Current aircraft G-YAAC and G-YOAA will be sold to offset some of these costs.
Airbus Helicopters head of civil business Gary Clark concludes: “We greatly appreciate this show of confidence from Yorkshire Air Ambulance in once again selecting the H145 to replace its current helicopter fleet. The new version of the H145 with its five-blade, bearingless rotor gives an even smoother ride and 150 kg greater useful load, plus the potential for longer endurance without refuelling; all important factors in helping air ambulance operators do their vital work more efficiently than ever. We wish YAA well in its daily operations.”