Helicopter air ambulances grounded across Britain over safety fears

 

Helicopter air ambulances were grounded across Britain yesterday over fears the aircraft could be unsafe.

The main operator supplying helicopters to air ambulance associations covering England, Scotland and Wales withdrew all 22 of its helicopters after cracks appeared in a rotor hub.

Bond Air Services, which discovered the defect on a helicopter operating in Scotland, said it was acting to protect the safety of crew and passengers. The company supplies helicopters to over half the air ambulance associations in Britain.

Eurocopter which makes the aircraft said the  model affected - the EC 135 -  was fit to fly if daily checks were made.

The defect was discovered last month and  the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) ordered daily safety inspections on the EC 135 while it was being investigated.

On Sunday, an additional safety notice was issued  by Eurocopter  following further reports of cracks affecting several helicopters, according to a Bond spokesperson. This ordered additional maintenance procedures.

“Eurocopter wanted a visual inspection before and after every flight. Bond weren’t satisfied. They felt safety would be compromised. Until Eurocopter gets their head round what went wrong and decides what the solution is, Bond felt they had to ground the aircraft,” the spokesman said.

Last month, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) ordered daily safety inspections on the EC 135 while the possible fault was being investigated but stopped short of ordering the aircraft to be grounded. 

 The Bond spokesman said: “That is up to them (EASA). They are not the one’s holding responsibility for our customers.”

A spokesperson for Eurocopter said:  “Eurocopter is performing all necessary investigations and is following this matter with the highest priority.  The EC135 has an excellent safety record. The world fleet (more than 1000 aircraft) has accumulated more than 2.3 million flight hours to date and with more than 270 customers in 58 countries the EC135 is the preferred choice of numerous operators globally.”

Scottish Air Ambulance, which uses two EC 135s based in Glasgow and Inverness, told the BBC  any patient requiring transfer by air would be taken by coastguard and military helicopters, or SAS fixed-wing aircraft.

A spokeswoman for the North West Air Ambulance, which also has two EC 135s, said a replacement aircraft had been found and was currently operating.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
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

Recruitment Genius: Plant Fitter - Construction Industry

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This well established construction equipment d...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitm...

Recruitment Genius: Factory Operatives

£7 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This high quality thread manufacturer ba...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003