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Scottish air ambulances grounded amid safety fears

Category: Scotland

Published: 8th May 2012 14:35:27

Scotland's two air ambulance helicopters have been grounded amid safety fears over the aircraft.

The Scottish Ambulance Service said the move had been taken as a "precautionary measure" by operator Bond Air Services.

It has suspended flights by its fleet of Eurocopter EC135 helicopters following reports of cracks.

In the interim, the ambulance service said air transfers would be carried out by Coastguard and military helicopters, or by fixed wing aircraft.

Last month it emerged that the European Aviation Safety Agency had ordered daily safety inspections to be carried out on the EC135.

This came after the manufacturer, Eurocopter, was told to establish the cause of a crack found on the main rotor of a Scottish air ambulance.

The Scottish Air Ambulance Service has two of the helicopters, which are based at Inverness and Glasgow.

A spokesman for the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) said it had been told on Monday afternoon that Bond Air Services had suspended all EC135 flights as a precaution.

"The company has taken the decision as a safety measure following receipt of a Safety Information Notice from Eurocopter, which was followed by further reports identifying cracks on the lower hub shaft flange on the EC135," said the SAS spokesman.

"The Scottish Ambulance Service is operating contingency measures whereby any patient that requires transfer by air will be taken by Coastguard and military helicopters, or SAS fixed wing aircraft.

"Bond is awaiting further advice from Eurocopter once investigations to identify the cause of the cracks have been carried out. There are no faults with the rotor hub on either of the two air ambulance helicopters in Scotland."

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BBC News, 2012. Scottish air ambulances grounded amid safety fears [Online] (Updated 8th May 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1427161/Scottish-air-ambulances-grounded-amid-safety-fears [Accessed 23rd Apr 2014]

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