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Second new aircraft for Yorkshire's helicopter heroes

Second new aircraft for Yorkshire's helicopter heroes

Published at 4:05pm 3rd February 2016. (Updated at 5:36pm 3rd February 2016)

The Yorkshire Air Ambulance will soon have two new state-of-the-art helicopters.

Its oldest MD902 Explorer aircraft, G-SASH, is being replaced with an Airbus H145 model later this year and a second Airbus H145 has just been ordered to replace the other MD902 Explorer, G-CEMS.

Chairman Peter Sunderland and Vice-Chairman Bruce Burns recently visited the Airbus factory in Munich to see how work is progressing on the first new helicopter.

Mr Sunderland said: "We are very much looking forward to welcoming our new helicopter to the UK later this year to provide the people of Yorkshire with an even better state-of-the-art service.

"As part of our Vision of the Future strategy, our long-term plan had always been to eventually replace G-CEMS as well as G-SASH. However, due to diligent cost control, budgeting and the generosity of the people of Yorkshire, we have been able to bring forward these replacement plans. And we are delighted to announce that following discussions with Airbus on our recent trip to their factory, we have confirmed the order of a second H145 model."

The helicopter is expected to cost around £5.7 million and is due to enter service in the spring of 2017.

Mr Burns said: "We are beginning to see a growing number of maintenance issues with our current ageing MD902 Explorers, as well as encountering mounting issues with obtaining spare parts. This is resulting in ever-increasing costs of maintaining them both.

"Over the last couple of years, we have encountered record spending on maintenance, and this has been one of the major contributing factors in our decision to purchase not just one new helicopter, but two.

"Both of the new H145s will also be night capable, enabling us to operate for longer hours which will be a massive benefit for the people of Yorkshire

"After long discussions with Airbus, it was apparent that it would be more cost-effective for us to coincide the order of the new helicopters, rather than waiting some time between them. It also means that we will have a reduced time where we have to operate a mixed fleet."

The second new helicopter will operate from the charity's Northern base at RAF Topcliffe near Thirsk.

It will give paramedics and doctors a larger cabin area to treat patients and will carry the latest medical equipment.

Mr Sunderland added: "We are extremely excited to welcome the replacement H145s to our fleet. The charity are expecting to see long-term cost savings with the new helicopters, as they will be much more operationally reliable.

"It has been a long process planning for the replacement of our fleet, however we are confident that we have made the right decision for the people of Yorkshire, enabling us to give them the best possible service."

The charity needs to raise £12,000 every single day to keep its two helicopters flying.

It serves five million people across Yorkshire and attends, on average, more than 1,000 incidents each year - around three every day.

Yorkshire Air Ambulance - Peter Sunderland and Bruce Burns

Bruce Burns and Peter Sunderland with the first of two new helicopters