An English hospital’s helipad has temporarily closed after being badly damaged by a departing U.S. Air Force CV-22 Osprey.
The structure at Addenbrooke Hospital in Cambridge was thrown into the air as the tiltrotor aircraft took off April 21. The crew was taking part in medical transfer training when the incident occurred.
The aircraft, assigned to the 352nd Special Operations Wing out of RAF Mildenhall, was conducting a simulated medical evacuation training scenario at Addenbrooke to assist local emergency response forces with a casualty evacuation capability, Maj. Keavy Rake, a spokesman for the Host Nation Coordination Cell, said in a statement to Air Force Times.
“This was the first time we have conducted operations on the Addenbrooke’s Helicopter landing zone,” he said.
Exercise planners had assessed the area prior to the exercise and coordinated with the manufacturer of the landing pad, hospital staff and the Addenbrooke East Anglian Air Ambulance units, Rake said.
Confident of the helipad’s ability to withstand the turbulence of the Osprey’s rotors, the 352nd SOW told readers on the RAF Mildenhall Facebook page not to worry.
“Do not be concerned as training is conducted today,” the Air Force advised.
“Unfortunately, the training caused damage to the helipad, however, no one was injured and there was no damage to any aircraft,” Rake said. “The U.S. forces and U.K. MoD are coordinating to rectify the situation as quickly as possible, and will continue to work with local partners to return the area to its original state.”
U.S. Air Force and U.K Ministry of Defence teams cleared the debris, Rake said. The helipad will be replaced.
The East Anglian and Magpas air ambulances had to be temporarily diverted to nearby Cambridge City Airport, the BBC reported. Patients were then transferred the short distance to the hospital in road ambulances with critical care staff on board. Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust confirmed to the BBC that air ambulances can now land on grass “close to the usual” site.
“We regret any disruption caused to the hospital and the associated emergency services, and truly appreciate their understanding and the long-standing relationship and partnership between the U.S. and U.K.,” Rake said.