Helicopters grounded

Helicopters used in the Western Isles to transfer hospital patients were grounded on Wednesday amid safety concerns.

The EC 135s, based at Glasgow and Inverness, are used by the Scottish Air Ambulance service.

A spokesman for the Scottish Ambulance Service yesterday explained: “Bond Air Services advised on Wednesday evening,(11th December) that as a precautionary measure, it was temporarily suspending flights of its fleet of Eurocopter EC135 helicopters, including Scotland’s two air ambulance helicopters.

“The safety of patients and air ambulance staff is the number one priority and Bond has taken the decision following a reported technical fault on one of the company’s EC135s operating outside Scotland.

“Until the matter is resolved, the Scottish Ambulance Service is operating normal contingency measures whereby any patient that requires transfer by air will be taken by Coastguard and military helicopters, Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance helicopter or SAS fixed wing aircraft.”

A spokesperson for Bond Air Services yesterday explained: “As a precautionary measure, following an issue with the fuel indication system on one of our aircraft yesterday we temporarily suspended service operations whilst we undertook further technical investigations of our fleet of EC135s.

“These investigations are expected to be completed by end of the day.

“Those aircraft that are confirmed as having no fault will return to service. We will continue to work with the manufacturer Eurocopter on any aircraft which are found with this fault, with the aim of resuming normal service as soon as it is safe to do so.

“This is in line with our commitment to the highest standards of safety in all our operations.”