Updated: Air Ambulance suspended

Bucks Free Press: Air Ambulance service suspended after fault detected Air Ambulance service suspended after fault detected

AIR ambulance services in South Bucks could be back in business by Sunday after being grounded yesterday due to a potential fault.

Operator Bond found a fuel indication defect on one of its Eurocopter EC135 helicopters during a North West Air Ambulance flight yesterday.

It is the same model that crashed into a pub in Scotland last month, killing ten people.

Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance Trust (TVCAA) confirmed yesterday that its helicopter had been temporarily grounded, with extra road response vehicles operating during the suspension.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance, its sister service, has already resumed operations and will provide mutual support to Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Bucks until the service is restored.

Mark McGeown, Chief Executive of TVCAA, said, “Bond Air Services took the decision following a reported indication defect on one of their EC 135s that needed further technical investigation.

“As a result of that investigation we have been advised that our helicopter cannot be returned to full service at present.

“Bond Air Services are working with Eurocopter to rectify the deficit and return our aircraft to full service at the earliest opportunity. We fully believe that the safety of patients and air ambulance staff is the number one priority.”

A further statement today revealed Bond are working with manufacturer Eurocopter to source and replace potentially faulty components.

TVCAA crews are hopeful they will be back in the skies by Sunday.

Bond's 22 UK air ambulances and police helicopters were affected, including the one used by TVCAA, after the operator ordered all of the models to be suspended yesterday.

There is no suggestion of a link between the helicopter fault and last month's tragedy in Glasgow.

South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust has provided the air crews with emergency response vehicles, with much of the same medical equipment as the helicopters themselves.

Although the speed of the air crew’s response will be affected, TVCAA insists the quality of the medical response will be maintained.

The Trust receives no government money and is funded solely through donations from the community and businesses.


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