Air ambulance services grounded over 'fault'

 

Air ambulances covering large parts of the UK have been grounded after a fault was found which could cause them to crash.

Flights of 22 Eurocopter EC 135 helicopters have been suspended as a precaution, operator Bond Air Services said, following the discovery of a fault in an air ambulance in Scotland last month.

A crack was discovered on the main rotor hub of one helicopter, prompting a safety warning by the European Aviation Safety Agency (Easa).

Bond said Eurocopter had advised pre and post-flight checks after the fault was discovered but Bond had now decided to halt flights until further notice on safety grounds.

"The company's first priority is safety and it has reported its decision to suspend the flights of the EC 135 to Eurocopter and awaits further comment from Eurocopter once they have completed their investigation," a spokesman said.

About 1,000 of the craft are in use around the world, including air ambulance services in England, Scotland and Wales.

In England, the model is in use at Thames Valley and Chiltern; North West; Midlands; Dorset and Somerset; Hampshire and Isle of Wight; and Devon, according to the Association of Air Ambulances.

Eurocopter said it was giving its investigation into the EC135 its "highest priority".

The model, of which there are more 1,000 in operation in the world, has an "excellent safety record", a spokeswoman said.

"Eurocopter is, at this stage, not able to comment further within the scope of the investigations and is devoting all of its efforts in order to identify the cause in close collaboration with the operator and the EASA," she said.

"Safety is, and has always been, Eurocopter's top priority. We expect our suppliers to demonstrate the same level of commitment in this respect, and we share this culture with our customers to ensure that day in, day-out, thousands of operators around the world make safe flights."

In its directive, the EASA said: "This condition, if not detected and corrected, could lead to further crack propagation, possibly resulting in main rotor hub failure and consequent loss of the helicopter."

There are currently 30 helicopters in service for the 18 Air Ambulance charities in England and Wales plus two operated by the Scottish Ambulance Service, according to the AAA.

Bill Sivewright, the chief executive of the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance and vice chairman of the Association of Air Ambulances, said 16 air ambulances were affected.

Services with aircraft affected were working with those with helicopters still flying to provide as much cover as possible, he added.

"For us here, we are coping," he said.

"It is all hands to the pumps when these things happen. We are used to working together so when these things happen we can respond.

"No one can pretend it is everything we want it to be. But I would rather be in this position than cleaning up after an accident."

The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance was still flying, he said, because it was already using a different replacement aircraft while its EC 135 was undergoing maintenance unrelated to the safety concerns.

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
peopleGerman paper published pictures of 18-month-old daughter
Arts and Entertainment
'A voice untroubled by time': Kate Bush
musicKate Bush set to re-enter album charts after first conerts in 35 years
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Williams' life story will be told in a biography written by a New York Times reporter
arts + ents
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
Voices
voices
Sport
Roger Federer is greeted by Michael Jordan following his victory over Marinko Matosevic
tennisRoger Federer gets Michael Jordan's applause following tweener shot in win over Marinko Matosevic
News
peopleJustin Bieber accuses paparazzi of acting 'recklessly' after car crash
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Oppressive atmosphere: the cast of 'Tyrant'
tvIntroducing Tyrant, one of the most hotly anticipated dramas of the year
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Merger and Acquisition Project Manager

£500 - £550 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are currently...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£50 - £55 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN TAWe are looking to recrui...

Technical Manager – Heat Pumps

£40000 Per Annum dependent on experience: The Green Recruitment Company: They ...

Test Job

TBC: Test Recruiter for iJobs: Job London (Greater)

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis