Scotland’s air ambulance helicopters have been grounded amid safety concerns after cracks were found in the aircraft.
The Scottish Ambulance Service confirmed on Tuesday that its two Eurocopter EC135 helicopters based in Glasgow and Inverness were suspended from flying as a result of the concerns.
It said Bond Aviation Group, which operates the helicopters that respond to emergency calls and requests from remote, rural or island clinicians, had decided to ground the helicopters after the manufacturer Eurocopter issued a safety information notice.
According to the ambulance service, back-up will be provided by Coastguard and military helicopters, while the rest of its fleet - two King Air 200c planes based in Aberdeen and Glasgow, which are used to transfer patients between hospitals – has not been affected.
A spokesman for the ambulance service said on Tuesday: "Bond Air Services advised on Monday afternoon that as a precautionary measure, it was suspending flights on its fleet of Eurocopter EC135 helicopters, including Scotland's two air ambulance helicopters.
"The company has taken the decision as a safety measure following receipt of a Safety Information Notice from Eurocopter which was followed by further reports identifying cracks on the lower hub shaft flange on the EC135.
"The Scottish Ambulance Service is operating contingency measures whereby any patient that requires transfer by air will be taken by Coastguard and military helicopters, or SAS fixed wing aircraft.
"Bond is awaiting further advice from Eurocopter once investigations to identify the cause of the cracks have been carried out. There are no faults with the rotor hub on either of the two air ambulance helicopters in Scotland."
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