Bond Air Services have confirmed to HeliHub.com that the contract they have with Great Western Air Ambulance will see an aircraft upgrade in October 2014. The move is largely prompted by their current Bo105 being incapable of operating from the newly-opened helipad at Bristol Royal Infirmary, one of two hospitals in the centre of GWAA’s operational area. The charity had previously targeted a date in August.
Recent operational tests of the Bristol Royal Infirmary helipad just prior to its official opening were flown using GWAA’s Bo105, but with the aircraft stripped out of most of its interior to allow it to operate within safety limits. The helicopter is shown in the image below during these trials.
Bond have lined up G-WMAS for Great Western Air Ambulance, an EC135T2 model. This 2001-build aircraft has about 5,500 flying hours and has served the majority of its life with Midlands Air Ambulance, who replaced it with a new night-capable EC135T2e in late February 2014. G-WMAS then did a stint with Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance as an interim aircraft for a few months – and they too now have an as-new EC135, albeit a pre-owned airframe acquired from Azerbaijan. G-WMAS is expected to be resprayed in the green/black colours of Great Western Air Ambulance along with its notable blue heart-rate stripe ready for October.
The move to the EC135 by Great Western will leave just one air ambulance Bo105 in the UK, with Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance.
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com
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