A powerful rotor downwash from a US Air Force CV-22 Osprey destroyed the helipad of the Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, UK, making it difficult for air ambulances carrying critical patients to land there.
A video doing the rounds on social media shows the CV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft (with tail marking 0053) approaching the helipad casually, and stayed for a few minutes before some American soldiers disembarked.
Later, when the craft took off, the rotors’ downwash blew away the helipad surface, rendering it useless for other air ambulances to bring in critical patients.
Now, the patients arriving via air ambulances have to be directed towards Cambridge City Airport. Addenbrooke’s Hospital is the major trauma center in eastern England and its helipad is used by the East Anglian Air Ambulance, Magpas Air Ambulance, and Essex and Herts Air Ambulance.
The V-22 Osprey is a tiltrotor VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) aircraft that can land like a helicopter and can tilt its rotors forward to act like a turboprop aircraft, ensuring speedy transportation of troops and equipment.
“The next closest helipad is at Cambridge City Airport, where one of the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) teams is based,” he added.
He also confirmed that by the time the helipad is repaired, it will be possible for the EAAA helipad to be used as an alternative landing site and have patients transferred to Addenbrooke’s from there by land ambulance.
“Addenbrooke’s is the major trauma center for the region, therefore quick and efficient transfer of critically ill or injured patients to the hospital is vital, and using the EAAA helipad is the best alternative while the CUH helipad is reinstated,” he mentioned.
Meanwhile, the US Air Force also acknowledged the incident and said that the area was already thoroughly inspected according to policies and procedures, however “some damage did occur”.
The service also told that they are working to rectify the errors as soon as possible and that they appreciate their close relationship with the UK, enabling easier coordination.