THE first air ambulance to be able to fly at night has taken flight.

The East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) has been granted permission to fly its Cambridge-based helicopter on emergency medical service missions at night.

To flight at night the helicopter is fitted with an instrumentation system and external lighting compatible with night vision goggles.

Tim Page, chief executive of EAAA, said: "We are all extremely proud to be able to say that EAAA is the first dedicated air ambulance in the country to be granted permission to fly at night but, above all, this is great news for the people of East Anglia as there is evidence that this development in operations will mean that more lives will be saved across the region."

The charity says that it will be able to attend 30 per cent more incidents, helping 300 more patients.

Mr Page added: "It has been a concern of the charity for a long time that patients who become ill or injured during daylight hours have been able to benefit from a service which has not been available to those who are involved in incidents and accidents in the dark."