UK aeromedical service the Wales Air Ambulance Charity (WAAC) has unveiled its new aircraft, an H145, as well as its new rapid response vehicles. The lifesaving service is equipped with highly advanced medical equipment, which enables the medical crew to deliver emergency department treatments at the scene of an emergency.
Gama Aviation successfully bid for a seven year aviation contract earlier this year; which covers the operation and maintenance of a primary fleet of four Airbus H145 helicopters. Currently, the service has three H145s and one smaller H135. As part of the new contract, the H135 aircraft will be upgraded to a H145.
The charity underwent a rebrand last year and is now able to give a glimpse of the new aircraft that carries the design. During the summer, WAAC supporters were given the opportunity to name the helicopter. They took part in an online vote to choose their preferred aircraft registration from a list of five options. The clear winner was G-LOYW, which means bright or shining in Welsh.
The whole design process was delivered in-house by the charity’s communications team, co-managed by creative digital designer Lauren Berry and communications and engagement manager Laura Slate. Slate says: “Working on the livery for an aircraft was something none of us had ever done before. It was a challenge for the Charity's communications team but one we took great pride in. To have been able to complete the project in-house is a huge achievement for us, and we’re incredibly grateful to have been given this opportunity.”
Berry adds: “There were a lot of things to consider during the design phase, from identifying the best materials to use and understanding the legislation in place. With the support of the charity's partners we have been able to create something that we are proud of.”
The team collaborated with Gama Aviation and The Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service (EMRTS) throughout the process to ensure compliance with safety guidelines.
The aircraft maintains its Welsh identity, with a bold red colour and distinctive green dragon’s tail that matches the charity’s new logo. The design also includes contour lines, which are representative of the diverse geographical landscape of Wales and symbolic of the different areas the charity serves.
Dr Sue Barnes, chief executive, says: “Whenever we survey our supporters, the charity’s strong Welsh identity is always highlighted as a source of pride. It is important that the passion for our nation is visible through the vehicles that we use, both in terms of their design and the Welsh language registrations for our helicopters.”
Mark Smith, managing director, special mission for Gama Aviation, adds: “It has been great to work with the charity to implement the evolution of its brand onto the helicopter and road vehicle fleet, allowing us to bring both design teams together to collaborate on how we can realise a 2D design on a 3D shape.
“For me, the change is also symbolic. The delivery of the helicopter in the new livery represents the commencement of an exciting new partnership between us, EMRTS and the charity. Operations will commence in earnest shortly, and we are looking forward to playing our part in the delivery of pre-hospital support to the people and communities of Wales.”
G-LOYW will join the existing fleet of H145 model helicopters later this year. The remaining aircraft will be rebranded over the coming months when they undertake their regular servicing.