Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Trust introduces another AW169 helicopter to its fleet

20 July 2022

The UK charity Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Trust (EHAAT) will be introducing its second AW169 helicopter for its Emergency Medical Services (EMS) operations. The agreement between Specialist Aviation Services and EHAAT, which was signed at the Farnborough International Airshow on 18 July, includes a bespoke medical interior, in addition to other modifications to be provided by SAS.

Delivery of the helicopter is expected to take place within Q4 2023 and entry to service is anticipated in Q1 2024 with its fully customised medical interior provided by Specialist Aviation Services. The introduction of an additional AW169 into the EHAAT fleet will support the charity’s strategic objectives in providing advanced, life-saving care to the communities of Essex and Hertfordshire.

The Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Trust signed for its first AW169 in 2016. The helicopter then took to the skies in the summer of 2017. Five years on and the air ambulance charity will be expanding its fleet with another of the light intermediate-sized twin-engine 4.8 tonne type.

Jacopo Borghi, Head of Macro Area – North and East Europe Sales at Leonardo Helicopters, commented: “With Essex & Herts Air Ambulance introducing another AW169 to its fleet, this confirms this is the ideal platform to support EMS operations. The AW169 has been designed in response to the growing market demand for a future-proofed intermediate class helicopter that delivers high performance, meets all the latest safety standards and specifically for the EMS market delivers unique clinical capabilities with 360degree patient access.”

Paul Curtis, Aviation & Operations Director at EHAAT, said: “Having seen the financial and operational benefits of buying our first AW169 in 2017 the Trustees have made the decision to add a second AW169 to the fleet to replace our existing leased MD902, which is now over 12 years old. The charity can save a considerable amount of money by purchasing a second aircraft, when compared to the cost of leasing, and it will give us an asset worth several million pounds at the end of its operational life with us. Placing the order for a new aircraft has been made possible by the continued support from the public and businesses of Essex and Hertfordshire, boosted also by a dedicated fundraising appeal currently underway.  The new state of the art AW169 will be able to fly further, faster and carry additional equipment than the existing MD902. In addition, it offers the maximum internal cabin space for crew and patients so that, even whilst flying, the Pre-Hospital Care Doctors and Critical Care Paramedics will have full access to the patient if necessary – continuing to improve the life-saving service for the people of Essex, Hertfordshire and surrounding areas. We look forward to bringing the new helicopter into service by spring 2024.”

Luke Farajallah, CEO of Specialist Aviation Services, said: “Specialist Aviation Services is extremely proud to be partnering with the team from Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Trust in the acquisition of its new Leonardo AW169 helicopter, which will be delivered in late 2023, ready for service in spring 2024. Upon arrival, the helicopter will be fitted with the very latest custom-made emergency service interior before it enters service and replaces the current SAS MD902 in a move that will streamline the operation into a single ultra-modern fleet. The AW169 is without question the best-in-class choice for Helicopter Emergency Medical Services, and we are delighted to support the Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Trust on this next stage of evolution.”

The AW169 offers enhanced safety on the ground by the high clearance of the main and tail rotors, and the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) mode ensures the continued operation of the environmental control system, radios and medical devices when the rotors are stopped, in addition to the large sliding doors that allow easy patient entry and egress. The AW169 EMS is rapidly reconfigurable and uniquely designed around patient needs, ensuring that air medical professionals can be there when it counts, providing the best care. In UK the AW169 has boosted Leonardo’s presence in the EMS market with 11 units already in operation.

More recently, greater performance and equipment/kits for all roles have been introduced. Certified in December 2021, the new Phase 7 core avionics software release and the performance increase packages deliver greater performance in all conditions for all applications making the AW169 the helicopter model with the best power-to-weight ratio in its class for all missions. 

Nearly 300 AW169s are on order today, with more than 140 units delivered from the Vergiate final assembly line (Italy) to operators in 25 countries. The global fleet has logged in excess of 110,000 flight hours in all kind of operations and environments/weather conditions.