The new helicopter arrived at Exeter as part of a training flight from the Airbus Helicopters UK facility in Oxfordshire, where the aircraft is currently based. DAA formally accepted the new H145 last month and since then, its pilots have been undertaking extensive training on the new aircraft. The flight into Exeter forms part of a three-week training programme that includes classroom-based theory, ‘visual’ and ‘instrument’ flight training containing a mixture of proficiency and flight skills tests and a theory exam.
DAA Flight Operations Director Ian Payne said: “It’s fantastic to see our new H145 helicopter flying into Devon for the first time; it marks the culmination of several years of hard work and development to get the very best aircraft for the people of Devon.”
“Those with a keen eye will notice the new H145, registered G-DAAS, is slightly bigger than our current EC135 aircraft which means we have a larger internal space to treat and convey patients, we can carry more emergency medical equipment and it has a longer flight time between refuelling. The advanced technology and aviation systems that are included with this aircraft really make the H145 a complete package and will ensure we have the very best airborne capability to deliver our enhanced and critical care for many years to come.”
Gary Clark, Head of Civil Business at Airbus Helicopters in the UK, added: “We greatly appreciate Devon Air Ambulance’s continuing confidence in our products, and we look forward to supporting them for many years to come. The H145 provides a substantial enhancement to air ambulance operations and we are confident that it will enable DAA to offer even higher standards of service in its vitally important field of work.”
This training flight is one of a number the pilots will carry out as they gain experience of the H145’s array of advanced aviation technology and systems that deliver handling, autopilot and navigational aid functions. Once the pilot training is completed in Oxford during August, the new aircraft will be permanently based in Devon, where more crew training will be carried out before the aircraft goes into service later in the year.
DAA Chief Executive Heléna Holt commented: “We recognize the huge responsibility we owe to our supporters to ensure we get the best possible aircraft to meet the needs of our current and future HEMS operations in Devon. We are confident the new H145 is the right aircraft and will be a huge asset in helping us to bring urgent medical care to those who need it most.
Our thanks, as ever, to all the businesses, communities and individuals who support us. We look forward to the day that we can invite you all to come and see the new aircraft which has been made possible by your generous support.”