Christmas road test – East Anglian Air Ambulance

Saturday, September 10th, 2016 - autos, cars, motoring, news

Source : Christmas road test – East Anglian Air Ambulance

Airbus Helicopters EC145 T2 The quickest way to get emergency care to those who need the item most


Even by the standards of Autocar’s Christmas Road Test, in which we deliberately test something of which is usually not a car, This particular is usually slightly unconventional.

Assessing the East Anglian Air Ambulance is usually a test of not just the rotary-massed hardware on show yet also the way the item is usually operated. the item is usually, in effect, a test of two things of which are interdependent on each different.

The first of those things is usually a state-of-the-art helicopter, one of the newest as well as most capable inside the range of Airbus Helicopters (the company of which was called Eurocopter until last year).

the item’s an EC145 T2 helicopter yet, rather than being the sole subject of This particular feature, the item’s what an organisation called the East Anglian Air Ambulance has done with the EC145 – how the item has kitted out the helicopter as well as operated the item – of which is usually the true subject, the true hero, of This particular year’s Christmas Road Test.

The East Anglian Air Ambulance – shall we just go with EAAA through currently on? – operates two helicopters, one through Cambridge as well as one through Norwich. the item’s a charity of which deals in emergency response, bringing medical care to those who need the item most urgently: often traffic accident victims, horse riders as well as those who’ve had accidents in remote areas.

One of the EAAA’s helicopters is usually an EC145 T2, the first such design to become operational in Britain as well as only the 12th EC145 to hover away through Airbus’s production line. The EAAA is usually about to receive its second EC145 to replace a smaller, older Eurocopter helicopter.

Our test is usually of its recently delivered machine. We have flown inside the item as well as interviewed its pilots – although not the tall, regal one of whom you may already have heard – as well as its medical staff, to fully understand what the item means to operate a 365-day-a-year, 24-hour-a-day emergency service of which responds to thousands of calls a year, covering an area of more than 5000 square miles as well as a population of nearly three million. through several hundred feet up. Here’s how they do the item.

Design as well as Engineering (all 5 stars)

The most obvious difference between the EAAA’s old as well as brand-new helicopters is usually of which the latest EC145 incorporates a larger rear passenger compartment as well as is usually crewed by two pilots rather than one.

The EC145 T2 (recently renamed the H145 by its maker, Airbus Helicopters, to accompany the company’s rebranding) sits at the mid-point in Airbus’s commercial helicopter range. the item’s big enough inside the back to fit all the equipment of which EAAA requires, yet compact enough to be manoeuvrable, as well as – by the standards of choppers – economical.

What’s surprising about aircraft, though, particularly light aircraft, is usually how much capability they can pack into such a tiny space. The EAAA’s EC145 seats two pilots facing forward (natch), as well as directly behind them can sit two rear-facing passengers. Then there are two more forward-facing seats along one side of the rear cabin, which has a stretcher for taking a patient, loaded through the rear doors, along the different side.

On as well as around of which bed fits more equipment than is usually carried in any road-going ambulance. There’s also a considerable amount of window area as well as six doors. as well as all of This particular inside a cabin of which’s barely 4.6 metres long as well as no wider than a passenger car’s.

the item is usually no wonder, then, of which the doors clack shut with all the finesse of an early 1960s Longbridge product. Everything is usually built to be light, to the extent of which the EC145 must take off weighing no more than 3650kg. as well as, given of which the item has two turbine engines generating 894bhp between them, as well as whose exhausts heat to around 1000deg C as they spin to around 6000rpm, you can imagine of which keeping the unladen weight down to 1919kg is usually quite a challenge.

Much of the construction is usually aluminium, which has a tail rotor assembly, or Fenestron, made entirely through composite material. The rear rotor spins at 2400rpm, while the four main rotors turn at 383rpm in flight conditions to create sufficient lift to keep the EC145 airborne.

Inner surface (all 5 stars)

If you think platform as well as module sharing is usually only for the automotive industry, think again. Airbus’s helicopters use the same avionics suites as Airbus airliners – or at least, they pick as well as choose through them. Three out of four of a commercial airliner’s screens make the item, lightly modified, to the inside of the EC145, where two pilots – as well as the EAAA’s is usually slightly unusual in of which the item uses two, rather than one – guide the controls.

EAAA employs two flight crew because the item makes things safer as well as faster. The air ambulance flies in nearly all conditions as well as certainly at any time of the day or night, as well as the flight crew don’t necessarily know precisely where they’re going or where they’re landing until they get there. Therefore, any tasks of which one pilot can take through the different to speed up the process is usually a Insentif.

The EC145 incorporates a spacious forward cockpit with superb visibility as well as is usually so sophisticated of which the item can make you “quite a lazy pilot”, according to one crew member.

There’s nothing lazy about either crew member, actually. the item’s just of which a capable helicopter is usually essential, given of which visibility might be appalling, their job is usually urgent as well as there might be unknown hazards on the ground. Any time the helicopter as well as its equipment can save helps to raise a patient’s chances of survival.

Hence, EAAA’s EC145 incorporates a huge searchlight, to scour for potential landing areas. the item’s backed up inside the cockpit by iPads, whose maps zoom to street-name level (helpfully, because the standard avionics cannot) as well as which can even show the location of overhead power cables, to help the pilots to put the EC145 on the deck as safely as well as quickly, as well as as close to the patient, as possible. The crew even have night vision goggles.

Performance (all 5 stars)

To be horribly blunt, after a major trauma, there are statistical peaks when a patient is usually most likely to die. There is usually a tiny peak after a week or so, after perhaps infection has taken hold. There’s another day or so after trauma, when prolonged emergency treatment has failed. yet by far the biggest peak is usually the first: within hours of an accident as well as hospital admission. The earlier clinical care can start, the better a patient’s chances of survival. as well as the item’s precisely of which which the EAAA is usually attempting to tackle. Its people are trying to turn what would likely otherwise be the last day of your life into merely the worst day of your life.

Anywhere inside the East Anglia region can be reached by the AEEE within 25 minutes of receiving an emergency call. yet the item is usually not just the speed of the helicopter versus a road-going ambulance of which makes the EAAA so valuable. What actually sets the item apart are the two medical staff inside the back: a critical care paramedic, who will see the kind of injuries every day of which most paramedics see only once every six months, as well as an A&E-grade doctor. Plus, as we’ve mentioned, there’s a vastly bigger array of equipment as well as drugs than you’ll find in a conventional ambulance.

Getting those personnel as well as their equipment to the casualties is usually the EAAA’s main role. the item’ll carry a patient onwards to hospital in only around a third of cases. Most of the time, the item is usually what the item takes to the scene of which makes the difference, rather than what the item takes away. the item brings casualty department care to the scene of an accident.

yet make no mistake: the EC145 is usually fast. Its maximum cruising airspeed is usually 166mph as well as its recommended cruise 150mph. which has a tailwind, the crew have seen speeds across the ground of more than 170mph – useful given of which the helicopter takes a couple of minutes to wind up as well as a short while to wind down.

Ride as well as Handling (all 5 stars)

The EAAA’s pilots are extremely fond of the way the EC145 handles inside the air. They tell us the item’s agile for a helicopter of its size, the item has power to spare as well as the item’s a particularly easy machine to fly. the item helps you out, too. the item incorporates a four-axis autopilot of which the flight crew use “all the time, so we can free up capacity as well as think about what we’re going to do”. There is usually even collision detection.

The EAAA flies most places at 1000ft, although the item can fly as low as 500ft when necessary. Around airports the item generally has to be beneath 700ft. Telling air traffic control of which the item’s on an HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Service) call, the flying equivalent of a blue light call, doesn’t give the EAAA carte blanche to fly where the item likes, yet traffic control will give the item priority wherever possible.

inside the more remote parts of East Anglia, there’s less chance of intruding on someone else’s airspace, yet the one-third of calls of which require taking a patient to hospital will involve flying around congested air. The EAAA can only land at hospitals of which have predetermined places for the item – if not a helipad then a designated field or place in a car park. Addenbrookes in Cambridge as well as Norfolk as well as Norwich University Hospital inside the local area, plus places such as the Royal London Hospital, all do.

through there, the paths of the crew as well as the medical team may be rather different. There’s a strong chance the helicopter will return home, leaving the medical team which has a patient for a time after they’ve arrived at hospital. After of which, what ride as well as handling experience the medical team have depends on the quality of the taxi they take back to base.

Buying as well as Owning (all 5 stars)

The EAAA neatly sidesteps the sometimes difficult buying element of This particular section as well as instead leases the helicopters the item uses. The EC145s are kitted out by a company called Aerolite, yet the EAAA incorporates a contract with Bond Aviation for the supply of the two helicopters themselves. Bond is usually responsible for generating sure of which they’re serviced as well as maintained, as well as if one is usually out of action, you get the equivalent of a courtesy car. There is usually looking after to do, too, because these helicopters are kept busy. They ran 167 missions in October alone.

Fuel costs are a bit lumpy, too. Taxiing out as well as taking off will get through 40kg of fuel alone, as well as then usage is usually around 240kg per hour, so the EC145 can fly for around 0-0 minutes before the item hits reserve. Typically, the item will refuel after every job through a bowser kept near the aircraft yet, if rushed, the item can do two close missions on a tankful.

The EAAA’s operating budget runs to £10.2 million per year. Remarkably, the item is usually all raised charitably.

The verdict (all 5 stars)

In many ways, an air ambulance is usually one of those vehicles you’d rather not see, because if the emergency services decide the item’s needed, you’re probably having the worst day of your life. However, if you are in need of the item, we strongly suspect there is usually no better sight inside the earth.

The difference the item makes to those the item helps cannot be overstated; the item brings hospital-quality equipment as well as expertise to those inside the field – sometimes literally – in a timeframe of which is usually both critical as well as cannot be matched by different transport. The fact of which the East Anglian Air Ambulance as well as others like the item are funded entirely by charitable donation is usually remarkable as well as heart-warming.

Airbus Helicopters EC145 T2

We like the quickest way to reach casualties, the coolest way to reach casualties, saves lives

We don’t like depends solely on public generosity to run. if you’re a recipient of its care: absolutely nothing

Engines HF120; Thrust 4100lb ft; cost through £2.87 million; Claimed fuel consumption 240kg/hr; Range 351 nautical miles; Maximum cruise speed 166mph; Hover ceiling 12,000ft; Take-off power 894bhp; Maximum take-off weight 3650kg

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