MIDLANDS Air Ambulance has unveiled its first wholly-owned helicopter to replace one of its three leased aircrafts.

The 23-year-old charity, which serves Wyre Forest, bought the £4.5 million helicopter to help reduce its overall running costs.

The newly-registered G-OMAA EC135T2e aircraft was initially built at Eurocopter in Germany before receiving its medical equipment fit out at Bond Air Services in Staverton.

It undertook its maiden flight in February from Bond Air Services to Midlands Air Ambulance’s RAF Cosford airbase in Shropshire where it has been carrying out numerous helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) missions on a daily basis.

Previously, Midlands Air Ambulance leased all three of its helicopters from Bond Air Services, based at RAF Cosford, Tatenhill in Shropshire and Strensham in Worcestershire.

Hanna Sebright, chief executive for Midlands Air Ambulance, said: “The decision to purchase outright our own helicopter was made as part of our strategic plan to strengthen our long term sustainability by reducing overall operating costs, and further investing in HEMS operations and pre-hospital care.

“We are delighted to unveil our new aircraft, G-OMAA, which has been named in the spirit of our commitment to delivering the very best patient care and our ability to reach a patient within a matter of minutes. It has been a much anticipated and now welcome addition to our fleet.”

The purchase of the new helicopter was possible due to the on-going support the charity receives from the public and businesses as well as a generous one-off legacy gift in a will from Derek Bullivant.

Currently, Midlands Air Ambulance’s three helicopters carry out HEMS missions during daylight hours, up to 12 hours in summer months and eight during winter. As part of the GO MAA campaign, the service needs to raise an additional £250,000 to fund air ambulance missions between lit helipads during the hours of darkness.

To make a donation text GMAA01 and your donation amount to 70070. For more information call 0800 840 20 40 or visit midlandsairambulance.com