Great Western Air Ambulance upgrade to EC135

on . Posted in Aircraft in Focus

Great Western Air Ambulance is the newest HEMS outfit in the United Kingdom, beginning missions in June 2008.  Before then, the area was covered by the Wiltshire Air Ambulance/Police’s MD902 Explorer. GWAA initially began operations with a Eurocopter EC135 +T2 registered G-SPHU, which previously operated with Strathclyde Police Air Support Unit.

Once operations commenced, it was clear that the 5 day a week service would cost too much to run with the EC135 so on 29th January 2009 it was announced they would downgrade the helicopter to a smaller, German built Bolkow BO-105 – registration G-NDAA, which previously operated for the Devon Air Ambulance. With this cheaper aircraft becoming operation in April 2009, the unit extended their operations to 7 days a week.

With the opening of Bristol Royal Infirmary’s new rooftop helipad, Great Western Air Ambulance were forced to find a new helicopter due to the ageing BO-105’s weight and power limits which meant it was not able to use the pad.
In July 2012 the charity launched the ‘Movin on up’ campaign to raise £250,000 in a year to contribute to an EC135 T2 leased from Bond Helicopters to be used 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Finally, on the 16th October 2014, GWAAC received their new Eurocopter EC135 T2, registered G-GWAA which previously operated with the Midlands Air Ambulance and later the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance as G-WMAS. Initially, the aircraft remained in traditional red with yellow colours before going back into Bond Helicopters at Gloucester Staverton airfield to be painted in the very striking new colours.


BEFORE: Old BO-105 Cabin:


AFTER: New EC135 T2 HEMS cabin:

To keep the new helicopter in the air, GWAAC now need to raise £2million a year. People can donate via their website, or by texting HELI13 £2 (or any amount) to 70070.