Photo: The new AW169
Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance Trust (KSSAAT) took delivery of a new AgustaWestland 169 (AW169) helicopter today (Wednesday).
The new generation helicopter will replace one of the two older KSSAAT helicopters currently in service and greatly increases the operational capacity of the life-saving service. Every year the specialist doctors and paramedics treat nearly 2,000 people. The majority are suffering from the most severe and life-threatening injuries, but includes those suffering from acute medical emergencies.
Adrian Bell, Chief Executive of the KSSAAT, said: “The enhanced capabilities of the helicopter will allow us to further improve the life-saving service we deliver to the community, and offers us the exciting potential to reconfigure how these services are delivered for maximum effect in the future.”
The new helicopter boasts a larger cabin giving the medical teams 360 degree access to the patient, allowing life-saving, time-critical interventions inside the aircraft, which isn’t currently possible.
The additional cabin space will also allow the Charity to deploy larger teams for major emergencies and undertake the level of training and supervision all individuals and teams need both by day and night. Not only is the aircraft also slightly faster than the current MD902, it also has far greater endurance and can therefore fly much further without the need for refuelling.
Adrian added: “Our current helicopters are just about adequate for the task by day but not best suited to support night operations. Logistic support for refuel and resupply is severely limited and NHS supporting infrastructure (24/7 helipads at key hospitals) in the region lacking. But the increased range of the AW169 means we can fly to an emergency incident anywhere in the south east and then air transport the casualty on to hospital out of region but with a helipad should the patient’s need so demand.”
A planning application to locate both KSSAAT aircraft to a new flying base at Old Hay Airfield has been submitted to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council. Old Hay Airfield occupies an optimum location at the heart of the region that would allow the KSSAAT pilots to reach emergency incidents anywhere in the south east within 25 minutes.
Group Managing Director of Specialist Aviation Services, the Charity’s aviation partner, Henk Schaeken, said: “We are very proud to be introducing the all new AW169 helicopter into service in the UK with one of the country’s leading air ambulance operators.
“We have been very busy training our engineers and pilots in preparation for the introduction to service of the AW169, so we can deliver from the outset the same high level of aircraft availability and support which our customers have come to expect from us.”
Specialist Aviation Services has been appointed as an Authorised Service Centre for the new generation AW169 light intermediate helicopter in the UK and will provide a range of support and maintenance services to AW169 operators.