New Wales air ambulance is 'most advanced in the UK'

Health correspondent Owain Clarke takes to the air

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A new air ambulance, described as "the most advanced in the UK," is coming into service in mid Wales.

The new aircraft can fly at night and in bad weather, reach speeds of more than 150mph (241km/h), and replaces the current 20-year-old model.

The helicopter is the last of Wales' three air ambulances to be upgraded after the charity raised an extra £600,000.

A charity spokesman said it "belongs to the people of Wales".

The aircraft, which comes into service on Friday, can reach Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, from its base in Welshpool, Powys, in 12 minutes.

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It's a phenomenal difference ... the avionics have got the new equipment that allows us to fly in worse conditions we wouldn't be flying in before”

End Quote Jason Williams Wales Air Ambulance flight operations manager

There is also more space for paramedics to treat patients, an additional seat for a doctor, nurse or a parent, and it has radar technology that can detect bad weather ahead.

The air ambulance can also carry an incubator - a first for the Welsh fleet - so it can fly sick children all over Wales.

Mark James, from the Wales Air Ambulance charity, said: "To be honest the paramedics are absolutely delighted with the aircraft. You can see they're running around like kids on Christmas morning.

"This aircraft is the most advanced air ambulance currently flying in the UK.

"It's brand new, it's straight off the production line and it's got all the bells and whistles on it."

Flight operations manager Jason Williams it was a "privilege" to fly the new aircraft.

"It's a phenomenal difference," he said.

Paramedics show Owain Clarke the new air ambulance

"The speed of the aircraft is completely different. The avionics have got the new equipment that allows us to fly in worse conditions we wouldn't be flying in before."

Mr James added: "The wording on the side [of the aircraft] - 'funded by the people of Wales' - has always been behind everything we've done.

"It isn't our aircraft...it belongs to the people of Wales because they pay for it and if they didn't believe in what we were doing they wouldn't be paying for something like this."

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