The Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance Charity (DSAA) announced the entrance into service of the Leonardo AW169, becoming the first HEMS operator in the United Kingdom to deploy the AW169 as an Air Ambulance.
The launch of the Leonardo AW169 on June 12th, 2017 was the culmination of years of planning and development by the non profit organization following an extensive evaluation process of several models that resulted in the selection of the new helicopter. The DSAA noted the selection was based on the outstanding characteristics, superior capabilities and safety standards of the helicopter that will ensure unprecedented levels of mission effectiveness for their operation that will provide an enhanced life-saving service for the people of Dorset and Somerset.
“It has always been the Charity’s aim and clear vision to pursue clinical excellence; pairing Critical Care Teams with the outstanding capabilities of the AW169 is a natural development of that vision. Patient benefit remains our top priority and this was the single biggest criteria in selecting the new aircraft.” said Bill Sivewright, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance Chief Executive Officer.
“Our ambitions and clinical aspirations determined a particular requirement from whichever aircraft we selected. The capabilities and flexibility offered by the AW169 made it a clear winner and in our view it was the only aircraft which fully met our criteria. Another major plus in selecting a new mark of aircraft is that you are taking advantage of the latest advances in technology. That means that it is safer and easier to maintain and operate.” he added.
The medical equipment in the AW169 will be similar to what was carried on the Charity’s previous aircraft, however, crews will have added space to treat patients with the additional cabin space offered in the 169 when compared with the Charity’s previous EC135 helicopter.
The Charity that has been in existence since the year 2000 has flown over 12,000 patient missions, despite not being a twenty four hour operation, although recently the DSAA has expanded its coverage period from twelve hours a day to nineteen, operating between 0700-0200 each day providing air ambulance service to Dorset and surrounding areas.
The helicopter has a medical interior designed, certified and installed by Specialist Aviation Services, a total service solution provider who also operate the AW169 helicopter on behalf of the Charity. Sivewright noted that SAS had worked closely with the DSAA clinical team while developing the custom medical interior that will allow the Charity to more fully meet the needs of patients than ever before.
Putting the AW169’s into service will also open up more possibilities for the DSAA to complete night flying missions and allow the ability to fly directly to the patient without the need of any fixed or pre-established lighting which is a significant advantage.
The AW169 twin engine light intermediate category helicopter, is a 4.6 tonne helicopter based on the footprint of the already successful AW139 and AW189 models, possessing the same flight characteristics and safety features while sharing a common cockpit layout, design philosophy and maintenance/training concept. The AW169 has seen success in European markets with 150 AW169 helicopters ordered by 60 customers in over 20 countries around the world to date.
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Ryan Mason is the Publisher and Editor in Chief of Heliweb Magazine. Ryan has worked in aviation media for the last nine years as a photographer and journalist, providing written and photographic content for multiple international aviation publications covering both fixed wing and helicopters. Ryan has also written for law enforcement publications on tactics, equipment and airborne law enforcement, drawing on his years of experience as a police officer in the Midwest United States. You can reach Ryan at firstname.lastname@example.org