East Anglian Air Ambulance – Christmas road test

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Source : East Anglian Air Ambulance – Christmas road test

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 actually not a car, of which is actually slightly unconventional.

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

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

the item’s an EC145 T2 helicopter nevertheless, rather than being the sole subject of of which 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 in addition to operated the item – of which is actually the true subject, the true hero, of of which year’s Christmas Road Test.

The East Anglian Air Ambulance – shall we just go with EAAA coming from currently on? – operates two helicopters, one coming from Cambridge in addition to one coming from 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 in addition to those who’ve had accidents in remote areas.

One of the EAAA’s helicopters is actually an EC145 T2, the first such type to become operational in Britain in addition to only the 12th EC145 to hover away coming from Airbus’s production line. The EAAA is actually about to receive its second EC145 to replace a smaller, older Eurocopter helicopter.

Our test is actually of its recently delivered machine. We have flown inside item in addition to interviewed its pilots – although not the tall, regal one of whom you may already have heard – in addition to 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 in addition to a population of nearly three million. coming from several hundred feet up. Here’s how they do the item.

Design in addition to Engineering (5 stars)

The most obvious difference between the EAAA’s old in addition to fresh helicopters is actually of which the latest EC145 carries a larger rear passenger compartment in addition to is actually 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 back to fit all the equipment of which EAAA requires, yet compact enough to be manoeuvrable, in addition to – by the standards of choppers – economical.

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

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

the item is actually no wonder, then, of which the doors clack shut with all the finesse of an early 1960s Longbridge product. Everything is actually built to be light, to the extent of which the EC145 must take off weighing no more than 3650kg. in addition to, given of which the item has two turbine engines creating 894bhp between them, in addition to 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 actually quite a challenge.

Much of the construction is actually aluminium, that has a tail rotor assembly, or Fenestron, made entirely coming from 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.

Indoor (5 stars)

If you think platform in addition to module sharing is actually only for the automotive industry, think again. Airbus’s helicopters use the same avionics suites as Airbus airliners – or at least, they pick in addition to choose coming from 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 – in addition to the EAAA’s is actually 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 in addition to faster. The air ambulance flies in nearly all conditions in addition to certainly at any time of the day or night, in addition to 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 coming from the different to speed up the process is actually a Insentif.

The EC145 carries a spacious forward cockpit with superb visibility in addition to is actually 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 actually essential, given of which visibility might be appalling, their job is actually urgent in addition to there might be unknown hazards on the ground. Any time the helicopter in addition to its equipment can save helps to enhance a patient’s chances of survival.

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

Performance (5 stars)

To be horribly blunt, after a major trauma, there are statistical peaks when a patient is actually most likely to die. There is actually a modest 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. nevertheless by far the biggest peak is actually the first: within hours of an accident in addition to hospital admission. The earlier clinical care can start, the better a patient’s chances of survival. in addition to the item’s precisely of which which the EAAA is actually attempting to tackle. Its people are trying to turn what might otherwise be the last day of your life into merely the worst day of your life.

Anywhere inside East Anglia region can be reached by the AEEE within 25 minutes of receiving an emergency call. nevertheless the item is actually 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 back: a critical care paramedic, who will see the kind of injuries every day of which most paramedics see only once every six months, in addition to an A&E-grade doctor. Plus, as we’ve mentioned, there’s a vastly bigger array of equipment in addition to drugs than you’ll find in a conventional ambulance.

Getting those personnel in addition to their equipment to the casualties is actually 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 actually 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.

nevertheless make no mistake: the EC145 is actually fast. Its maximum cruising airspeed is actually 166mph in addition to its recommended cruise 150mph. that 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 in addition to a short while to wind down.

Ride in addition to Handling (5 stars)

The EAAA’s pilots are extremely fond of the way the EC145 handles inside air. They tell us the item’s agile for a helicopter of its size, the item has power to spare in addition to the item’s a particularly easy machine to fly. the item helps you out, too. the item carries a four-axis autopilot of which the flight crew use “all the time, so we can free up capacity in addition to think about what we’re going to do”. There is actually 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, nevertheless traffic control will give the item priority wherever possible.

inside more remote parts of East Anglia, there’s less chance of intruding on someone else’s airspace, nevertheless 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 in addition to Norfolk in addition to Norwich University Hospital inside local area, plus places such as the Royal London Hospital, all do.

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

Buying in addition to Owning (5 stars)

The EAAA neatly sidesteps the sometimes difficult buying element of of which section in addition to instead leases the helicopters the item uses. The EC145s are kitted out by a company called Aerolite, nevertheless the EAAA carries a contract with Bond Aviation for the supply of the two helicopters themselves. Bond is actually responsible for creating sure of which they’re serviced in addition to maintained, in addition to if one is actually out of action, you get the equivalent of a courtesy car. There is actually 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 in addition to taking off will get through 40kg of fuel alone, in addition to then usage is actually 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 coming from a bowser kept near the aircraft nevertheless, 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 actually all raised charitably.

The verdict (5 stars)

In many ways, an air ambulance is actually 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 actually no better sight inside planet.

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