Today marks the end of an era with Air495 – the shared Ambulance Victoria and Victoria Police helicopter – touching down at Essendon airport following its final operational flight this morning.
The aircraft, also known as Air495, has provided 24-hour emergency air ambulance capabilities to Victorians for more than 30 years since launching in 1986.
Its operational chapter comes to a close as Ambulance Victoria transitions to a new fleet of helicopters, with five new aircraft now sky-bound.
Ambulance Victoria Manager Air Operations Anthony de Wit said the transition came at 7am, when the new helicopter officially available for service.
‘The Air495 has held a special part in Air Ambulance’s history and has literally saved the lives of hundreds if not thousands of Victorians over the years,’ Mr de Wit said.
‘We’d also like to take this opportunity to thank our Victoria Police colleagues who have worked with us over this journey – we still share the same hangar, so we’re sure to see them in the skies.’
Air495 had an extensive history spanning more than three decades in which it attended a number of prominent Victorian medical emergencies and was notably fired at when it responded to the Hoddle Street massacre in 1987.
Since 2009, Air495 clocked up a total of 3,741 hours of fly-time which equates to 468 flying hours per year.
As of today, Air Ambulance’s fifth AW139 helicopter took to the skies, completing Air Ambulance’s transition to the new state-of-the-art choppers.
The new aircraft is faster, larger and are able to travel longer distances without refuelling. The choppers are winch-equipped and come with some of the latest aircraft technology.