On Saturday, a Eurocopter EC135T2+ appeared out of the Bond Air Services hangar carrying the titles of Northern Lighthouse Board "NLB" and the organisation's logo on both the doors and the tail.
NLB have previously been operating Bo105s for many years in support of Scotland's lighthouses. As these maritime navigation beacons have been automated over the years leading up to the completion of that project in March 1998, the number of hours flown on this contract have significantly reduced. Obviously the lighthouses still need maintenance, and as the Bo105 becomes "old technology", the move to a more modern platform has long been on the cards. The equivalent contract in England and Wales will soon be moving from a Bo105 to an MD Explorer with another operator.
Bond acquired the 2004-build airframe from Eurocopter UK, and transported it by road the short distance to their base at Gloucestershire Airport on 29th June. With just over 1090 hours on the airframe at the start of 2010, the manufacturer's British subdisiary had been managing the helicopter at their Oxford base since previous owner Taggart Homes went into administration in October 2008. It was then repainted from its previous blue and silver corporate scheme to Bond's trademark red and is now close to completing its re-equiment makeover.
The aircraft concerned is registered G-CGPI and has Eurocopter serial 0341
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