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Aerial shots of the rural Midlands from the Air Ambulance Service

Midlands Air Ambulance to unveil new helicopter

The first wholly-owned helicopter to join the Midlands Air Ambulance fleet will be unveiled today - as the charity cuts the ribbon on its new airbase at RAF Cosford in Staffordshire.

The new Air Ambulance being delivered Credit: Midlands Air Ambulance

The £4.5 million EC135Te helicopter is the first to be owned in full by the service, with all previous machines leased from Bond Air Services.

At a celebration event today, the Air Ambulance will also launch an appeal to raise £250,000 towards extending the service's winter flying hours.

Ready to take flight: The new Midlands Air Ambulance chopper Credit: Midlands Air Ambulance

Currently, the choppers only fly during daylight hours - but the extra cash will help keep them in the air for 12 hours a day.

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Neil Back among new Midlands Air Ambulance ambassadors

Neil Back was part of England's Rugby World Cup winning team in 2003 Credit: David Davies/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The Midlands Air Ambulance Charity is appointing a number of Midlands sport players, Olympians and Paralympians as ambassadors later.

Among those is former Leicester Tigers captain and England World Cup-winning forward Neil Back and Paralympic Gold and Silver medalist Mickey Bushell, from Shrewsbury.

All West Midlands air ambulances back in flight following suspension

All three West Midlands air ambulances have resumed to normal services Credit: PA Wire

All three West Midlands air ambulances have resumed to normal services following their suspension.

The West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) ground the three aircraft on Thursday after tests raised concerns over their EC 135 helicopters - the same which crashed into The Clutha bar in Glasgow on 29 November, killing 10 people.

WMAS has confirmed all three helicopters have resumed service "following extensive inspections by engineers from Bond Air Services."

Two Air Ambulance choppers remain grounded

Two of the three helicopters used by the Midlands Air Ambulance remain grounded today as inspections continue.

The entire fleet was grounded by the company which operates its EC-135 craft after a fault was found in another model.

Just one of the three MAA helicopters has been cleared so far Credit: West Midlands Ambulance Service

One of the choppers, based at Tatenhill airbase in Staffordshire, was cleared for flight on Thursday by engineers from Bond Air Services - but the other two, based at Cosford and Strensham, are still being examined.

It is hoped they will return to service tomorrow.

West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman Steve Parry said:

Safety is our highest priority and we will be guided by the operator of the aircraft.

Medical crews that would normally have been flying have been responding on land vehicles as they would if inclement weather had stopped the helicopters operating.

Air Ambulance returns one helicopter to the skies

One of the three helicopters used by the Midlands Air Ambulance has been cleared to return to normal service this morning.

The fleet was grounded yesterday by operator Bond Air Services after a fault was discovered in one of the models elsewhere in the country.

One of the Midlands Air Ambulance helicopters has been cleared for normal service Credit: West Midlands Ambulance Service

But, after an inspection by Bond engineers, the chopper based at Tatenhill airbase in Staffordshire will take to the skies again today.

Inspections on the other craft, which are based at Cosford and Strensham, are continuing.

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokeswoman said:

Clearly safety is our number one priority and will be guided by the operator of the aircraft.

The crews that would have been flying today have been responding on land vehicles as they would if the weather had stopped the helicopters flying.

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Air Ambulance chief: Rescue operations will continue

Bosses at the Midlands Air Ambulance have vowed rescue services will continue - despite being limited to land ambulances.

Speaking after the charity was forced to suspend its air rescue service following a fault with a similar model, chief executive Hanna Sebright said:

The safety of public, our aircrews and patient care will always remain our priority. I can confirm our aviation partner, Bond Air Services, has temporarily suspended our three helicopters.

This is purely a precautionary measure as a result of a defect found by Bond which requires further investigation.

We expect the suspension to be short term and temporary while checks to our three aircraft are completed.

While the investigations are being carried out, our aircrews will continue to provide patient care via our rapid response vehicles, which are located at our RAF Cosford, Strensham and Tatenhill airbases.

We are working closely with Bond Air Services during this time and will inform the public when our helicopter emergency medical service is back online.

– Hanna Sebright, Midlands Air Ambulance chief executive
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'Contingency plans in place' after helicopter grounding

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said that patients should not be affected by the grounding of air ambulances:

We understand this isa precautionary measure and that contingency plans with other air ambulancesand ambulance services are in place to ensure patients are not affected.

– department of health spokesperson
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Air ambulance suspension 'not result of Glasgow crash'

The partial suspension of the UK's air ambulance fleet is due to a discovery of a technical fault discovered on one, the Association of Air Ambulances said.

The grounding is as a result of a technical fault on one air ambulance aircraft with other Eurocopter EC135 in the UK and worldwide remaining operational at this time.

The suspension of operations is not as a result of the incident in Glasgow involving this type of aircraft on the 29th November, for which investigations continue.

Bond Air Services are continuing to investigate the technical fault that has resulted in the temporary suspension of services from the afternoon of the 11th December 2013.

The investigations include functional testing across each of the EC135 aircraft affected to gather more information and will ensure air ambulance operations are regularly updated.

– Association of Air Ambulances
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