To the backdrop of the Airwolf soundtrack and a light display that would put the Geneva Motor show to shame, Yorkshire Air Ambulance dropped the curtain on their brand new H145, presenting it to the world for the first time.
The collective gasp of amazement from gathered officials, supporters and media belied the thrill that this event at Yorkshire Air Ambulance’s (YAA) Nostell Air Support Unit base provoked. After all this was no ordinary event. The presentation of the H145 was the culmination of a five year process which, against some expectations, saw them establish a firm financial foundation, obtain its own AOC and present its newly acquired aircraft, a replacement for the old MD902s the charity has been using until now.
As a charitable organisation, any expense is heavily scrutinised, especially a £12m cost for two state-of-the-art helicopters, equipped with one of the most advanced medical fits on the market. However, in the words of Peter Sunderland, Chairman of YAA, ‘we’ve made the right decision’. With funds predominantly provided by the 4 million-strong population of Yorkshire, in addition to £1m support from the Chancellor George Osborne (paid from the LIBOR fine funds), Yorkshire Air Ambulance are realising their Vision of the Future, the charity’s strategy to provide a long-term, sustainable air ambulance service for the 5 million acres that represent the Yorkshire territory.
The pride the YAA team has in the aircraft, which was unveiled by the Chairman, Vice-Chairman Bruce Burns and former England Cricket Captain and YAA patron, Geoffrey Boycott, was apparent throughout the unveiling. Vice-Chairman Bruce Burns referred to it as a ‘phenomenal piece of kit… …which has better safety and is cheaper to maintain than our current aircraft’.
YAA’s passion, the foundation on which the charity’s volunteers, management, fundraisers and crews energy and enthusiasm is built on, was evident especially in the words of YAA’s Chief Pilot, Andy Lister who, after a familiarisation flight said, ‘It is a superb machine which has evidently been carefully designed and considered and the Fenestron tail rotor provides improved safety and enhanced confidence’.
Offering nearly twice the endurance compared to YAA’s current aircraft and availability rates of roughly 95%, the H145 is set to become an iconic view in the Yorkshire skies as it provides an increase of 30% in the life-saving missions YAA is able to conduct.