Air ambulance helicopters flying again after safety checks

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EAST Anglian Air Ambulance began flying again this morning 24 hours after its two helicopters were grounded for safety checks

The charity said yesterday its helicopter operator Bond Air Services had grounded all its 20 Eurocopter EC135s as a precautionary measure pending advice from the manufacturer.

In a fleet of over 1,000 EC135s worldwide there have been three instances of cracks developing in a flange below the rotor hub. There is no evidence of this on either EAAA aircraft but after consulting with Eurocopter and the regulatory authorities, Bond decided to resume flying its EC135s subject to pre-flight visual checks.

Bond said today: “Eurocopter has given an unequivocal guarantee that the EC 135 is safe to fly within normal operational limits following the continuing practice of visual inspections prior to each flight.

“Meanwhile, the Bond Air Services team will continue to support engineers at Eurocopter and the Regulatory Authorities to expand the understanding of the root cause of this problem with a view to providing a permanent solution.”

Bond says it is ‘the UK’s largest independent emergency and mission critical helicopter operator providing air ambulance helicopter services, police and marine support to offshore wind farms and lighthouses’. It also provides search and rescue services to North Sea oil companies

Essex and Herts Air Ambulance Trust covered Suffolk, Norfolk, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire during the grounding.