Cambridgeshire: Air ambulance grounded over safety fears

THE helicopter air ambulance service covering Cambridgeshire has been grounded over safety fears.

The main operator, Bond Air Services, has withdrawn all 22 of its Eurocopter EC 135 helicopters over concerns about possible cracks in the rotor blades, including the East Anglian Air Ambulance’s (EAAA) two aircraft.

The Essex and Herts Air Ambulance Trust will provide emergency cover for Suffolk while the helicopters are grounded.

An EAAA spokesman said the EC135’s operated had been temporarily grounded “as a precautionary measure” pending advice from the manufacturer.

He said: “Out of a fleet of over 1,000 such aircraft worldwide there have been three instances of cracks developing to a flange below the rotor blades.

“Although there is no evidence of this on either EAAA aircraft, our operator Bond Air Service has taken the precaution to ground its fleet of EC135’s pending further investigation – a policy that the EAAA entirely support for safety reasons.

“Bond Air Services is awaiting further advice from Eurocopter, the manufacturer of the aircraft, once investigations to identify the cause of the cracks have been carried out. There are no faults with the rotor hub on either of the East Anglian Air Ambulance helicopters.

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“Local people in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk remain covered with emergency medical assistance by our colleagues at the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance Trust.

“Our own crews of specialist doctor and EEAST critical care paramedic are continuing to provide emergency cover from our rapid response vehicles.

“We will issue more news as we get it, but at present this is all we know.”