EVERY child in need of specialist paediatric care can now be reached via air ambulance thanks to a new helicopter stationed at Oxford Airport.

National charity Children's Air Ambulance today unveiled the machine at its new home at the airfield near Kidlington.

The launch was the culmination of a six-year project to design and build two unique helicopters, with one based in Oxford and the other at Doncaster Sheffield Airport.

Kitted out with specialist equipment, the helicopters are the only flying intensive care units in the country dedicated to transferring critically ill children and babies.

It doubles the number of helicopters specialising in paediatric care in the UK and Children's Air Ambulance chief executive Andy Williamson claimed this would make a huge difference.

He said: “Previously we could only reach one in three children so we took the decision that one aircraft wasn’t enough.

"We now feel that we can attend every child that needs the service in the country.

“The only thing that can stop us is really adverse weather, so unless it’s really bad there’s nothing stopping us attend every child that needs us.”

Richard Clayton, the charity's director of operations, added: "Knowing that you're having an impact on the communities and helping the NHS provide the services they do so brilliantly makes me incredibly proud."

The new model, an AgustaWestland 169, begins active service on Monday, with the team of dedicated pilots and three clinical specialists based in Oxford.

The project will cost £32m over seven years and is separate from local services such as Thames Valley Air Ambulance, but is run by The Air Ambulance Service (TAAS).

A single Children's Air Ambulance has been based in Coventry since 2013, but struggles to meet demand when patients need care at opposite ends of the country.

The helicopters transfer critically ill children from hospitals that lack specialist equipment to one of nine major centres for paediatric care across the country.

Passengers will be transported four times faster than by road, enabling patients in Oxfordshire to reach London, the nearest centre, as quickly as possible.

The helicopter boasts bespoke specialist equipment, such as a specially designed stretcher and incubator.

Another new addition is an extra seat for a parent to accompany their child on their lifesaving transfer mission.

Mr Williamson said: "Having mum or dad there is going to be really important for children and parents.

"There's nothing worse than being a parent and seeing your child taken away in an ambulance.

"It's a horrible thing to experience especially when they're critically ill, knowing anything could happen at any time."