Herts avoids ‘catastrophe’ chopper alert

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HERTS Air Ambulance chiefs are reassuring the public that their two choppers have not been affected by a rotor hub crack that could have caused ‘catastrophe’.

The fault, which was discovered in an EC135 helicopter in Scotland, prompted worldwide safety warnings by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

Everyone using that model of chopper will now have to do extra pre-flight safety checks while an investigation is carried out.

But the two air ambulances that cover Herts and Essex were switched from that model to MD 902 Explorers by health directors in June 2010.

The new model has no rotor blade at the back, using air from a fan to balance the chopper instead. This is to make it safer when landing in busy areas.

Herts Air Ambulance operations director Cliff Gale said: “A fault has been found that potentially could have a catastrophic outcome, but it has not affected our helicopters.”

The Essex & Herts air ambulances are MD 902 Explorers not the EC135 helicopters affected by this safety alert. The safety bulletin is common practice within the aviation industry and on this occasion, because a fault has been found which potentially could have a catastrophic outcome, the European safety Agency EASA have issued a inspection protocol to all operators for regular checks to ensure their helicopters are not affected. I am sure the aircraft manufacturer, Eurocopter, is working hard to develop a repair scheme or modification to ensure any risk is totally eliminated. Alerts have been issued for our aircraft type in the past and the process is there to ensure safety is always the highest priority in aviation.