The Wiltshire Air Ambulance helicopter is likely to remain offline until mid-November.
The Bell 429 GlobalRanger was flown to Thruxton Airport in Hampshire on 27 September for routine servicing, but remains there in situ today (Monday, 6 November).
The detailed examination uncovered a need for maintenance work. As a result, the charity opted to bring other planned work forward from next year to reduce the overall time offline.
A spokesperson told Wiltshire 999s that the additional work will mean the aircraft won’t return to the skies until mid-November – but won’t need maintenance in early 2024.
Due to the contract they entered in the early days, Wiltshire is one of very few air ambulance charities that do not have access to a spare aircraft during servicing and maintenance.
Critical care medics will continue to response to the most serious emergencies using rapid response vehicles, but if a patient needs to be flown to hospital a neighbouring charity will have to attend.
On Friday (3 November), Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance was tasked to Melksham – close to the Wiltshire Air Ambulance base – for a crash that saw a cyclist airlifted to skull fractures.
In a statement, the charity said: “Our helicopter has been undergoing its annual service, which has resulted in maintenance being undertaken.
“In addition, the charity has proactively opted to bring forward some further maintenance – originally scheduled for Q1 in 2024 – to get everything completed quicker and reduce the amount of time the aircraft is offline for over a longer period.
“The aircraft is due back from mid-November and in the meantime our crew remain fully operational to respond to emergencies in our two critical care cars, as well as being supported by neighbouring air ambulances as part of our mutual aid arrangements.”
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