US Air Force Osprey destroys Addenbrooke Hospital's helipad

Moment US Air Force Osprey destroys helipad at Cambridge hospital during training exercise – leaving air ambulances with nowhere to land

  • The US Air Force CV-22 Osprey  landed at Addenbrooke’s hospital in Cambridge
  • The military aircraft landed at the helipad as part of a training exercise 
  • However, when the military aircraft powered up, it blew apart the landing pad
  • Large sections of the pad were scattered by the aircraft’s powerful twin rotors  

Critically ill patients cannot be airlifted directly to the East of England’s major trauma centre after a US military aircraft damaged its helipad during a training exercise.

A video shows parts of the helipad at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge blowing up from the ground as a United States Air Force (USAF) CV22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft took off from it on Wednesday.

Up to 800 people receive major traumatic injuries each year in the East of England, such as in a car crash, and patients are currently being flown to Cambridge City Airport instead.

The US Air Force Osprey, pictured, was taking part in a training exercise at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge when the surface of the helipad, right began it lift up

Even before the Osprey had left the ground, it was pulling up sections of the helipad

As the pilot opened the throttles of the powerful Rolls Royce engines, the downdraught ripped up the surface of the helipad

They have to complete the last part of their journey to the hospital by land ambulance with critical care staff on board.

Repair work on the helipad at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, which is used by the region’s three air ambulances, is under way.

A spokesperson for the three air ambulances, the East Anglian Air Ambulance, Magpas Air Ambulance and Essex and Herts Air Ambulance, said it is hoped the helipad will be back in use ‘soon’.

In a statement, the spokesperson said: ‘Due to an incident at the Cambridge University Hospitals helipad involving a military aircraft on Wednesday April 21 the helipad is temporarily unavailable to air ambulances.

‘The next closest helipad is at Cambridge City Airport, where one of the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) teams is based.

‘It will be possible for the EAAA helipad to be used as an alternative landing site during this time and have patients transferred to Addenbrooke’s from there by land ambulance, with critical care staff onboard.

‘Addenbrooke’s is the major trauma centre for the region, therefore quick and efficient transfer of critically ill or injured patients to the hospital is vital.

‘Using the EAAA helipad is the best alternative while the CUH helipad is reinstated.

‘The situation has been handled incredibly well by all parties involved and we are optimistic that the site will be back in use soon.’

Fortunately the Osprey made it safely into the air although the helipad is now out of operation until it undergoes emergency repairs

The USAF Osprey aircraft can take off, land and hover like a helicopter, and when the position of its rotors are tilted it has the long-range efficiency and speed of a turboprop aircraft.

Several of the aircraft are based at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk.

Maj Keavy Rake, of USAF’s 48th Fighter Wing, said: ‘The area was surveyed according to our policies and procedures and some damage did occur.

‘We are taking steps to rectify as soon as possible.

‘Our units are continuously coordinating with our local partners to improve operations.

‘We are greatly appreciative of the relationship and coordination we have with the UK.’

A spokesman for Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Trust said: ‘While our normal helipad is being repaired air ambulances will temporarily land at nearby Cambridge City Airport and patients are then transferred to the hospital in road ambulances with critical care staff on board, meaning we can continue to see and treat them as normal.’


The Osprey’s ability to perform as a helicopter and as a fixed-wing aircraft is due to proprotors – the name given to the three 19ft-long rotors attached to each wing.

It takes off like a conventional helicopter then the proprotors and engines rotate through 90 degrees to turn it into a fixed-wing aircraft.

The aircraft’s Rolls-Royce engines generate enough horsepower for the Osprey to climb at an impressive 36ft per second, making it a faster, more elusive target than a helicopter. 

It can also fly at up to 26,000ft, thereby avoiding enemy missiles, while its carbon-fibre fuselage reduces the impact of bullets and rockets. 

A U.S. Marine Corps MV-22 Osprey aircrafts take off from the USS Wasp (LHD 1) amphibious assault carrier during their operation in the waters off Japan’s southernmost island of Okinawa March 23, 2018.


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