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Emergency services in Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Somerset, Sussex and London are to benefit from a share of more than £200,000 of funding to allow air ambulances to land more safely in poor weather conditions.

Almondsbury Helicopter Airbase, Strensham Airbase, Henstridge Airfield, Royal Sussex County Hospital and King’s College Hospital were all selected as successful applications of the Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Programme, run by the UK Civil Aviation Authority and Department for Transport.

Funding will support their blue light landing sites to put in place new systems to allow helicopters to operate in challenging conditions that they previously would not have been able to, which will save lives in critical situations.

The GNSS Programme, in its third phase, has already provided thousands of pounds needed to deliver safety improvements.

The Programme focuses on improving flight safety by helping organisations implement new approach procedures using satellite technology, much like GPS in your car.

Rob Bishton, Group Director of Safety and Airspace Regulation at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said:

“Emergency services will benefit from improved flight safety and increased resilience for helicopter services, which will allow landings to take place in severe weather and challenging conditions– potentially saving lives in critical situations.

“We’ll work with applicants to deliver these benefits across the UK and enable the GNSS procedures to be implemented safely and efficiently.”

Minister for Aviation, Baroness Vere, said:

“The UK continues to harness the latest technologies and draw on the strengths of our space industry to boost flight safety.

“This funding will help ensure air ambulance crews in regions across the country can land in challenging conditions, so more patients receive urgent care when they need it.”

The dedicated GNSS Facilitation Team at the UK Civil Aviation Authority will also help guide sponsors and emergency service operators through the streamlined Airspace Change Process, ensuring a smooth and efficient transition to this innovative system.

The scheme received many applications for the third phase of the GNSS Programme, making the selection process highly competitive.

After careful consideration, the UK Civil Aviation Authority and Department for Transport chose to allocate resources to organisations covering five helicopter landing sites, specifically for emergency services because of the benefits it will bring to people in their surrounding communities.

The GNSS Programme has already demonstrated its ability to improve flight safety, particularly when landing in poor weather conditions. The potential benefits are even greater as it will enable air ambulances to land safely in weather that they would not previously be able to.

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