An air ambulance charity’s second life-saving helicopter will take off from Aberdeen airport early next year.
Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA) has signed a four-year deal with Babcock to operate and maintain its new helicopter from a dedicated facility on the east side of the airport.
The EC135 T2e, expected to be operational by March, will fly out of a base beside the firm’s passenger terminals.
Babcock’s Richard Youngs said he expected the hard-working charity team to respond to “hundreds of life-threatening emergencies” from the base each year.
He said: “Bringing this new aircraft and service to Aberdeen is great news for communities in the north-east and further afield.”
Custom-designed for air ambulance operations, the Airbus helicopter will be equipped with the latest medical technologies.
Each emergency flight will be crewed with two paramedics.
The announcement of Babcock as the operator follows a well-supported campaign, backed by The Press and Journal, for the charity to choose Aberdeen as the base for its second aircraft.
Fundraisers have so far managed to collect around half of the £6 million needed to cover the cost of the expansion.
Although the firm is best known in the north-east for transporting offshore workers, it is also the UK’s leading provider of air ambulance services. It has worked with SCAA since it began operations from its Perthshire base in 2013.
SCAA chairman John Bullough said: “We have enjoyed an efficient and effective service from Babcock for the charity’s existing air ambulance helicopter and we are pleased to extend that partnership to operate our second aircraft.
“The launch of Helimed 79 in early 2020 will mark the culmination of a three-year strategy at SCAA to deliver a second charity-funded air ambulance for Scotland.
“Babcock has been with us since day one and we’re delighted to entrust them with flying us into the future.”
Chief executive at the Scottish Ambulance Service Pauline Howie said: “SCAA has been a very important partner since 2013 and provides an exceptional service across the country every day.
“This new service from Aberdeen will help save lives, working alongside our two helicopters based at Inverness and Glasgow as an additional air resource.
“It will no doubt make a real difference to our patients, especially those in rural and remote areas.”