THE Yorkshire Air Ambulance has invested more than £15 million in two new state-of-the-art helicopters to provide the best care possible to people in the county.

The YAA has ordered the two new helicopters to replace its current fleet which came into use in 2016, with the new vehicles due to arrive in 2023.

The life-saving charity said the new models - new five-bladed Airbus H145 D3 helicopters - provide advanced, state of the art technology to give the best operational and medical service possible.

Advancements in the new model incldues a five-bladed rotor for smoother flight, on-board WiFi, and a cutting edge secure communications system, all of which will give patients better care in the air and mean medics on the ground will be better prepared for when they arrive.

They will also be fitted with some of the most advanced and innovative equipment for treating patients at the scene and in-flight.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: What Yorkshire Air Ambulance's new helicopters will look like. Pic: AirbusWhat Yorkshire Air Ambulance's new helicopters will look like. Pic: Airbus

In total, the fully kitted out new vehicles will cost around £15.3 million, funded through careful financial planning and reserves; the current aircraft will also be sold to offset some of the cost.

Steve Waudby, director of aviation at Yorkshire Air Ambulance, said: “Our two current helicopters, G-YAAC and G-YOAA have served us well since 2016 and will continue to do so for another few years.

"However, the typical effective lifespan of an air ambulance helicopter is somewhere between seven to 10 years, so we are placing a timely order now for delivery in 2023, whilst taking advantage of early Airbus production line slots, as this helicopter has become very popular within the air ambulance community.

"There have also been a lot of advancements made to the H145 since we bought our current aircraft – both technically in the cockpit, and medically with regards to the equipment we carry.

"We had the choice to look at retrospectively fitting these technological advancements or upgrading to brand-new helicopters that include everything as part of their specification.

"Given the complexities of helicopter mechanics, we would have also faced a longer lead time with having everything retrospectively fitted rather than buying new, so it was sensible for the Charity to upgrade the helicopters for new ones.”

The first new chopper is due to arrive in Spring 2023, with the second coming a few months later.

Mr Waudby added: “If we had taken the decision to retrospectively fit all the extra technology and equipment we needed, by the time that had been completed we’d have been at a point where we would have been starting to look at replacing our current helicopters.

"Bringing our plans forward by a year or two means we get best value, as well as bringing two even better state-of-the-art helicopters to the people of Yorkshire.”

Peter Sunderland, chair of the YAA, said: “We are delighted to be able to announce our plans for these new helicopters.

"The H145 has become the most popular new aircraft globally and we are very much looking forward to welcoming the two new models to Yorkshire in Spring and Summer of 2023.

"Our current H145 D2 helicopters have served us well, so there was no question about considering other makes or models – it is fast becoming the air-ambulance helicopter of choice within the air ambulance sector.

“We have been financially planning for these replacements since G-YAAC and G-YOAA commenced their operations in 2016 and with prudent, planned savings, careful budgeting, and building our reserves we are now in a position to move forward.

"This has only been made possible through the generosity of individuals, groups, businesses and organisations whose support is so gratefully received.

"Our aim has always been to provide the people of Yorkshire and its visitors with the best possible air ambulance service, and by upgrading our helicopters in 2023 we can continue to ensure we are futureproofing and modernising our operations and service delivery.”

The work of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance has been documented for more than a decade in BBC series Helicopter Heroes and the subsequent Discovery Channel production Helicopter ER, which followed medics and pilots on their work saving people from various emergences across the county.

Gary Clark, head of civil business at Airbus Helicopters in the UK, added: “We greatly appreciate this show of confidence from Yorkshire Air Ambulance in once again selecting the H145 to replace its current helicopter fleet.

"The new version of the H145 with its five-blade, bearingless rotor gives an even smoother ride and 150kg greater useful load, plus the potential for longer endurance without refuelling - all important factors in helping air ambulance operators do their vital work more efficiently than ever. We wish YAA well in their daily operations.”