East Anglian Air Ambulance set for night flights
The East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) service is to begin night flight operations from September.
The EAAA, which serves Bedfordshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, will begin to fly rescues in the hours of darkness from Cambridge Airport.
It will cost the charity an extra £1.5m a year on top of its annual £4.5m budget to equip and run the helicopters for night flights.
Nighttime operations are planned to begin from Norwich Airport in 2013.
EAAA fundraising manager Hannah Clay said: "We'll need lots of new gear on board like night vision goggles and extra navigation equipment.
"We're also getting a new aircraft that will be able to handle the night flying.
"What's paramount for us, other than the lives we save, is the safety of our crew, so we have to be able to prove we can do this safely in darkness."
European flight regulations introduced in the UK in April have allowed the charity to extend its operation to cover the hours of darkness.
"I understand their (EAAA) plans are to operate night flying from Cambridge Airport from September and then consider expanding the operation to Norwich in 12 to 18 months time," said Richard Pace, operations director at Norwich Airport.
"The air ambulance is of benefit to the wider community and the airport would assist wherever it could in making sure they could operate accordingly."