A LIFE-saving air ambulance has received approval to conduct night-time rescues for the first time.

The Yorkshire Air Ambulance (YAA), which operates two fully night-capable Airbus H145 helicopters, will now be available to respond to incidents from 6am until midnight during the week, and 10pm on weekends initially, with crews wearing latest generation night-vision goggles.

Previously the aircraft was only able to respond to daylight calls but has been given permission to extend its operational hours following a visit from their CAA Flight Operations Inspector.

Captain Andy Lister, director of aviation at the YAA said: “This really is a great step forward in the operational developments of the YAA.

“Our pilots and crews have worked extremely hard over the last few months to undertake and learn the processes involved in NVIS (Night Vision Imaging System) flying.

“It is a complex process for our operational team to have embarked on, however I am pleased to report that we now have a fully capable NVIS team at the YAA.

“I am very proud of them all, and know we are moving forward together to provide the best possible service for the people of Yorkshire.”

The charity’s state-of-the-art H145 helicopters carry the latest generation of medical equipment, advanced clinical practices, alongside the ability to give blood at scene where required.

Two highly trained paramedics fly alongside skilled pilots, and the Nostell helicopter also carries a consultant specialising in pre-hospital care.

Cpt Lister continued: “The YAA will commence NVIS operations with immediate effect, now we have been granted approval by the CAA.

“This will mean our crew will be operational for longer periods each day, enabling them to respond to incidents into the hours of darkness.

“This will be particularly beneficial in the winter months, when the nights come in much quicker.

“Our pilots and navigational crew will wear the NVIS goggles in the front of the helicopter which will enable them to identify any hazards or obstacles when approaching a landing site.”

The charity is continuing to train the rest of the helicopter crew, and expect to have everyone approved for NVIS operations by the end of October, when it will then become a fully night-capable operator.

The Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNASS), which serves the North-East and Cumbria, has been designated as a night time aircraft for a number of years and is already allowed to land at night-designated heli-pads.