A deposit has already been paid on the helicopter, with the remaining cost spread over the next 10 years. The charity currently own three Dauphin N2 aircraft, each of which are nearly 30 years old.
GNAAS chief executive Grahame Pickering MBE said: “Instead of waiting for the day when the helicopters are no longer fit for purpose, we are moving ahead to safeguard the future of the charity. The current fleet have been exceptional servants and owe us nothing, but it’s time to look to the future. We are excited about the enhancements the new aircraft will bring.”
A review was launched in 2017 and found that the next generation of Dauphin aircraft would best suit the demands of the charity’s 8,000sq mile area, which includes the North East, Cumbria and North Yorkshire.
Jay Steward, chief pilot at GNAAS, said: “This is an area of contrasts, and we need an aircraft that can handle the demands of flying from coast to coast, to the tops of fells and to city centres. Our current aircraft have done an incredible job, but the new model will take us to the next level.” The newest addition to the fleet is second hand, and as a result has cost £5 million. “The N3+ would cost upwards of £9 million new,” added Mr Steward. “This particular aircraft is only four years old and has flown just 306 hours, so we are delighted with the deal and can’t wait to get her flying in our green and white colours.” Meanwhile, two of the charity’s current fleet have now been made available for sale, proceeds from which will help pay off the new aircraft and also potentially secure a second upgraded helicopter.