Cornwall Air Ambulance has launched an appeal to raise £2.85m over the next year to purchase a second state-of-the-art helicopter to help save even more lives.
The lifesaving service based at Trevithick Downs in Newquay has started its Heli 2 Appeal to buy another AW169 aircraft, which will enable the aircrew to fly hundreds of extra missions.
Cornwall Air Ambulance states owning a second AW169 will significantly boost the charity’s versatility, capability and resilience due to the extreme demands on the current helicopter.
The high specification helicopter will provide the team with the versatility to operate two aircraft simultaneously during peak high demand period in the future.
Cornwall Air Ambulance wants to purchase a second AW169 helicopter so the charity can ensure it delivers a critical care service by air, 365 days a year.
It will continue to operate a single helicopter service but will have a second, same specification aircraft ready and available to use in times of planned or unplanned maintenance, boosting availability and resilience.
Currently, when the AW169 is away having its annual maintenance, the charity leases a backup AW109 aircraft from air operations partner Castle Air, so they can continue to respond to critical care missions by air. However, the AW169 is far more advanced and capable.
Tim Bunting, chief executive, said: “This is a huge moment for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly as we look to significantly enhance our service provision.
“We have had some of our busiest months on record this year and our priority is to ensure that we can continue to give the highest quality of care to those who are critically ill or injured. “We were the very first air ambulance service in the UK and owning two high specification helicopters for the first time will significantly increase our operational capacity, helping us improve our service over the coming years.
“We’re aware that we’re launching this appeal at a challenging economic time, but thanks to the support of our generous donors, we already have most of the money towards the cost of the £10million helicopter.
“We hope the public will get behind us as we look to secure the remaining £2.85million needed by the end of December next year.”
Cornwall Air Ambulance supports over 1,000 patients who are seriously ill or injured each year, but there is scope to reach even more people by air with the purchase of a second aircraft.
Owning two AW169s means carrying the best possible crew, with the best possible equipment, on the best possible aircraft, on all missions.
Chief Pilot Adam Smith added: “Owning a second AW169 will increase the safety for the team of pilots, as we’ll be operating a single type of helicopter.
“This will remove the need for pilot training hours in different types of aircraft.
“The second helicopter will have more advanced lighting providing better awareness of scenes at night in particular. “The second helicopter will also have a lower ‘empty’ weight allowing us to carry more fuel and attend when required more missions back-to-back and/or transfers to hospitals out of county.
“The AW169 has some of the most advanced navigation capabilities in the industry. This means we’ll be able to provide the same standard of service day and night when flying conditions allow, 19 hours a day, 365 days a year.”
Cornwall Air Ambulance is launching the appeal with a brand-new Christmas animation called Jess’ Journey, based on the story of patient Ned and his family.
Jess’ Journey follows the story of a young girl who watches as her brother Ned is taken to hospital by Cornwall Air Ambulance. As she watches him receive lifesaving care, she comes to terms with what is happening and responds in the most spectacular way. The story is based on patient Ned and his family, after he suffered a brain bleed and needed specialist care at the age of just seven.
Every donation made over the festive period will be doubled, thanks to the support of a small group of donors, and will go towards the Heli 2 Appeal.