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Wow! Air Ambulance Gets a $400000 Repair Bill


We all know that air ambulances by nature take a ton of money to upkeep. Routine maintenance and checks for ultra-high-tech, flying ICUs inherently result in expensive, but inevitable, repair bills.

Notwithstanding, this headline caught our attention; mainly due to the number of zeroes involved.

Joe Willis from The Northern Echo reported that a helicopter from Great Northern Air Ambulance Service recently was required to pay for a replacement gearbox after the old one reached the end of its 300-hour life. How much did it cost to replace that single aircraft component? 250,000 in British Sterling.

The roughly $400,000 USD bill is a reminder of exactly how important the public donations to the emergency air ambulance service are.

Incredibly, the single part could have cost the air ambulance service about 900,000 GBP new (that’s a trifle less than $1.5 million for those of us across the pond). Luckily, the company was apparently able to locate a like-new, reconditioned gearbox that “only” cost $400,000.

British or American, it all adds up to loads of money. Still, that doesn’t mean a repair bill that high is unusual for a lifesaving patient transport service like GNAAS.

All of the fundraising events and charity drives that take place year-round in the UK don’t just go to support individual lifesaving missions. All those donations made by the public, big and small, also go towards unforeseen repairs.

As the suggested sticker price for that one avionics component illustrates, those type of unexpected air ambulance repairs can be what would seem, at least to 99% of us, ridiculously expensive. However sky-high the costs, air ambulances like GNAAS know that safety is priority one.

Luckily, the replacement gearbox shouldn’t need to be replaced for some time. However, since GNAAS flies so many lifesaving missions — totaling approximately 350 hours a year — the need for another at some point is inevitable.

And you thought your last bill from Manny, Moe, and Jack was expensive.

Photo: Graham Mitchell via Flickr (CC-BY-2.0)

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  1. #1 EMS Crew#1 EMS Crew

    11 / 27 / 2012 6:54 am

    It doesn’t surprise me. $400k for a new gearbox is very high but repairs in aviation can be much higher especially for an aircraft carrying delicate medical equipment. $400k for a new gearbox is not something anyone ever wants to pay for but while high not all that uncommon cost when it comes to routine maintenance for aircraft.
    All that said I sure wouldn’t want to foot the bill!


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