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Wiltshire Air Ambulance have announced the return of their Bell 429 helicopter to the airbase after completing maintenance.

bell waa helicopter calneIn January we reported that Wiltshire Air Ambulance had been grounded after the company operating it, Heli Charter, went into liquidation leaving them with no Air Operator licence. However, Calne News learned that even if they still had the licence, the Bell 429 couldn't fly due to a repeat mechanical fault.

In July 2018, the air ambulance helicopter was grounded following an incident that saw the Bell 429 aircraft spin out of control during engine power checks. Following a medical emergency flight, the pilot was performing the necessary power assurance check when the incident occurred. The pilot was on board and the paramedic was on the ground at the tail end as the helicopter began to spin, luckily no-one was injured.

The same fault happened again on Wednesday 2nd January during checks at the helicopter's base in Semington,on this occasion the pilot was able to stop the spin. Following this, the base pilot declared the helicopter unsafe to fly.

Yesterday, Wiltshire Air Ambulance announced the return of the Bell 429 helicopter to the airbase after completing maintenance and they can now proceed with the final stages of securing their Air Operator Certificate (AOC).

A Wiltshire Air Ambulance spokesperson said: “There will now be a period of familiarisation for the pilots with the helicopter, with a number of test flights planned to complete the AOC process. This would then allow us to return to HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Services) with the Bell 429.

“In the meantime we continue to attend incidents in the MD 902 temporary helicopter and our two RRVs.”


Photo credit: WAA