With a year to go on our existing aviation contract, it is likely something we would make a priority for the new supplier/new contract. Essentially there are three components to being able to fly using night-vision capability:   

  1. The aircraft being fitted with the right technology 
  2. The availability of night-vision goggles for each of the pilot team/crew members who need them.   
  3. Pilots and crew being initially trained and then training standards maintained throughout the period of employment/tours of duty to ensure they remain current in terms of their night-flying accreditation.   

With our current mixed fleet and operating model, it is the last of these which adds quite a lot more complexity. By including this requirement in our new contract, the successful supplier will be able to plan and price for this from the outset. In addition, our new contract will see us move to a single airframe type and more consistent crewing model which will help achieve this. We are awaiting the evaluation/analysis of responses from our bidders in terms of timescales but the requirement we set out was for this to be part of the contract from the start. However, the rigour of the regulations in relation to night-vision flying and the oversight and conditions required by the CAA means that the reality is this will probably be some months after the start of the contract before we are fully operational.   

Although, it is important to remember that all our aircraft are currently able to land at lit landing sites at hospitals and that our Cardiff-based overnight aircraft is fully night-vision operational.