The Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire Air Ambulance charity has formally accepted a new AgustaWestland 169 helicopter to become its workhorse of the skies above the counties this year.
The charity will now have a £2.3m-a-year target to raise to keep it in the skies.
Chief executive Karen Jobling and joint chairman of the board of trustees Jack O’Hern travelled to Vergiate in Italy to formally accept the AW169 from AgustaWestland on Tuesday.
Karen said: “It has been really amazing to finally see our new ambucopter and to come out to the factory in Italy where it has been built.
“Our pilots have recently been here training and converting on to the AW169, and now seeing it come off the production line we’re looking forward to it flying back to the UK and becoming operational.”
The new helicopter will be yellow - the same as the current copter which is instantly recognisable - but beyond that the aircraft is very different.
Karen said: “The AW169 has a significantly larger cabin area which will give our critical care team 360-degree access to the patient, to provide time-critical medical treatment during flight if needed.
“The AW169 is faster, meaning we can reach patients, hospitals and major trauma centres more quickly. It can also fly further before it needs to be refuelled, which will allow us to deploy from one mission to the next without returning to base to refuel.”
The new aircraft will fly back to the UK very soon, but it will be a little while longer before people will see it taking to the skies.
First stop is for a custom-built medical fit to ensure that all the medical equipment is laid out properly, before it is delivered to mission headquarters at RAF Waddington later this summer.