Hampshire Air Ambulance grounded over safety fears

Andover Advertiser: The ambulance in Winchester earlier this year The ambulance in Winchester earlier this year

THE Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance has been grounded.

Its helicopter is one of 22 of a particular model that have been grounded across the country after a defect was discovered on a recent flight.

It was also the model of helicopter that crashed on a pub in Glasgow, killing nine people.

Bond Air Services has grounded its fleet of 22 EC135 helicopters in the UK as a precaution while the issue, which arose yesterday, is examined.

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.''

Sherie Williams Ellen, charity manager, said: “We have a temporary suspension of flights.

“The ambulance service still continues to provide the excellent land ambulance service so members of the public should not worry.”

She said there were no plans to bring in a replacement helicopter and it would be guided by Bond Air Services.

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