Suffolk: Air ambulance back flying after being temporarily grounded due to safety concerns

Thursday, December 12, 2013
9:25 PM

The East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA) has returned to operational duties after being temporarily grounded.

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Bond Air, which operates emergency helicopters across the country, had taken all EC 135 out of service over safety fears.

The EC 135 is the same model of helicopter as that which crashed on top of the Clutha bar in Glasgow.

However grounding of all 22 aircraft operated by Bond Air was not linked to anything from that incident, which is still being investigated.

The EAAA has two EC 135 helicopters which it uses to respond to medical emergencies in Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire.

A spokesman for the charity said the reason for the helicopters being ground was due to a fault being found on another Bond Air helicopter elsewhere in the country.

As a safety precaution the company then stopped all its EC 135s from flying until it was established the fault was specific to that aircraft and not a wider issue.

Both EAAA’s helicopters have now been passed safe to fly.

Meanwhile the National Police Air Service (NPAS) have confirmed none of their EC 135s have been grounded, although they have made some changes to fuel levels.

Chief Superintendent Ian Whitehouse, National Police Air Service Chief Operating Officer, said: “In light of the technical issue identified by Bond Air Services, as a precautionary measure, we are increasing fuel levels on all NPAS EC 135 aircraft and increasing the minimum level of fuel which pilots are allowed to operate on.

“Safety is the number one priority for the National Police Air Service (NPAS). Our decision on whether or not to suspend operations or ground any NPAS aircraft is based on advice issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) – the UK’s aviation regulator and original equipment manufacturers.

“We remain, as ever, in constant communication with the CAA and other partners in the aviation industry.

“There is currently no notice in place from the CAA or the original equipment manufacturers to ground any aircraft and so we have not done so.

“If such a notice is put in place then we would immediately and carefully consider it.”

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