North Devon is getting a replacement air ambulance that will be able to carry out night flights.
The Devon Air Ambulance base at Eaglescott near Umberleigh will be home to the existing, newer, helicopter currently based at Exeter.
Devon Air Ambulance Trust (DAAT) has just signed the contract to purchase a brand new helicopter for its Exeter base.
The state of the art Airbus H145 helicopter will be on duty from the Exeter air base from mid-2020.
The new aircraft will cost in the region of £7.6million, but this will be offset by the onward sale of the older helicopter, G-DVAA.
The helicopter moving to North Devon is already ‘night flight ready’ and operates up until midnight every day.
Towns and communities around the district have recently installed night flight landing sites at parks and playing fields, with special floodlights that activate when the helicopter is on approach.
Heléna Holt, CEO of Devon Air Ambulance, said: “An added benefit is that our existing Exeter aircraft will move to work out of our North Devon airbase, thereby meaning that both our aircraft will be capable of flying into the hours of darkness when we look to extending this part of our service.
“We aim to replace our helicopters, on average, every 10 years. We have undertaken extensive research into what would be the best helicopter to meet our current, and future, operational needs.
“As our main consideration is always to provide the very best care to our patients, this has been paramount as we have looked at what new helicopters are available. We feel that the H145 is perfect for our current and future needs.”
The community landing sites for the air ambulance have been made possible by working with local councils and community groups.
The most recent one is on the Recreation Ground at Braunton, in collaboration with the parish council and many local groups that led the fundraising appeal, as well as a landing site grant from the DAAT.
In North Devon there are numerous night flight sites, including at Lynton, Combe Martin, Ilfracombe, Bratton Fleming, Woolacombe, Bideford, Torrington and Clovelly, to name just a few.
If there is currently no landing site where you live, and you would like to find out more, contact Toby Russell on 01392 466666 or 07943 207673.