North West Air Ambulance fleet grounded after fault discovered
AIR ambulances were grounded yesterday after a fault was discovered on a North West Air Ambulance.
Flights across the UK using the same model of helicopter which crashed into a pub killing nine people were suspended after the fault was detected.
Operator Bond grounded its fleet of 22 EC135 helicopters as a precaution while the issue was examined.
On its Facebook page, North West Air Ambulance said: “Following advice from our aircraft supplier, all three North West Air Ambulance craft, along with all other air ambulances using the same aircraft in the UK, have been temporarily suspended from service.
“We are in continual dialogue with our provider as to when the service will be resumed and are hoping to be operational again as soon as possible.
“While the matter is investigated, our paramedics and clinical staff are deployed in rapid response road vehicles within the region continuing their vital work saving lives.”
The Police Scotland helicopter that crashed into the roof of the Clutha bar in Glasgow on November 29 was a Bond-operated Eurocopter EC135 Type 2 aircraft.
An initial report from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) issued this week said there was “no evidence of major mechanical disruption of either engine” of the Police Scotland helicopter as it returned from an operation in Dalkeith, Midlothian, on the night of the crash.
A statement from Bond Air Services said: “During normal operations yesterday, one of our EC135 fleet has experienced an indication defect that requires further technical investigation.
“Therefore as a precautionary measure we have temporarily suspended service operations whilst we undertake detailed diagnosis. We commenced investigations overnight, are continuing this morning and are in close liaison with Eurocopter regarding this investigation."
Other air ambulances still in operation will be used to cover the areas currently affected by the grounding, AAA said.
A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority said: “It is voluntary action by the operator. There is no official regulatory grounding of the type of helicopter so they are still free to fly if the operators wish to.
“If there were an official grounding, that would come from the European Aviation Safety Agency.”
Eurocopter, the manufacturer of the grounded aircraft, said the decision taken by Bond did not apply to the rest of the EC135 fleet.
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