24/Apr/2014 - Last News Update: 17:05

Air ambulance services grounded over safety fears

Category: England

Published: 8th May 2012 15:55:41

Large parts of the UK are without any air ambulance cover after the main helicopter operator grounded services over safety fears.

Bond Air Services has withdrawn all 22 of its Eurocopter EC 135 helicopters over concerns about possible cracks in the rotor blades.

The withdrawal leaves areas including Scotland, the North West and Hampshire without any air ambulance.

Other areas, including Wales and Devon, will have a reduced service.

A spokesman for Bond said a safety notice had been issued by Eurocopter on Sunday morning, urging operators to increase the frequency of checks on the EC 135 after cracks were found in several helicopters.

Eurocopter has not ordered that the fleet be grounded, but Bond said it felt compelled to take that decision.

"We take the view that this has been going on long enough.

"Eurocopter need to give a definitive statement about the problem and the solution to it.

"Until that happens we've taken the view that safety comes first and have suspended the service."

Tim Macmahon, director of government and public affairs at Eurocopter UK, said the advice was to step up checks while the company awaited further advice from its own airworthiness investigators and the European Aviation Safety Agency.

"That work is urgently going on, but it is always the final decision of the pilot or the operator whether to fly or not," he said.

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BBC News, 2012. Air ambulance services grounded over safety fears [Online] (Updated 8th May 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1427188/Air-ambulance-services-grounded-over-safety-fears [Accessed 24th Apr 2014]

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