8, 2012 Somerset's
air ambulance gets green light to fly again after safety alert
ambulances - including Somerset's - have been cleared to fly again,
after half of the UK's fleet of 32 helicopters were grounded over
safety fears on Tuesday (May 8th).
main operator, Bond Air Services, had withdrawn all 22 of its
Eurocopter EC 135 helicopters - including 16 air ambulances -
over concerns about possible cracks in the rotor hub.
model is used by air ambulance services in Somerset plus many
other regions of the UK, Scotland and Wales.
Devon and Somerset air ambulance is frequently used in the Burnham-On-Sea
area to provide emergency transport, as pictured above in Brean
last month when a walker
suffered a heart attack and, right, in Highbridge in
February when a pupil was air-lifted from King Alfred School
following a sports accident.
Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance grounded its aircraft, but said
services would instead be provided by neighbouring Wiltshire,
Sivewright, chief executive of the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance,
said: "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."
Air Services said that it has been working with Eurocopter engineers
over the past 34 hours to determine if the fleet could be flown
safely. A spokesman said Eurocopter had "given an unequivocal
guarantee" that the EC 135 is safe to fly.
Association of Air Ambulances (AAA) said 16 helicopters were affected
out of the 30 in service for charities in England and Wales plus
two run by the Scottish Ambulance Service.
Last month, it was reported that the European Aviation
Safety Agency (EASA) advised increased safety inspections on the
EC 135 while a possible fault was investigated.
said more than a thousand EC 135s were operating worldwide and
the model had "an excellent safety record". It added
"safety is and has always been Eurocopter's top priority."
Air Services said its mechanics had subsequently found a crack
during maintenance work at Staverton Airport in Gloucestershire
and reported it to Eurocopter. Eurocopter then issued an additional
safety notice on Sunday morning following urging daily visual
checks. It did not order that the fleet be grounded, but Bond
said it felt compelled to take that decision.
and in video: The Devon and Somerset air ambulance, above, at
Brean last month when a walker suffered a heart attack and, centre,
in Highbridge in February when a pupil was air-lifted from King
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