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UK firm involved in fatal Scottish crash grounds EC135 helicopter fleet

Rescue workers lift the wreckage of a police helicopter on to a trailer in central Glasgow, Scotland December 2, 2013. REUTERS/Russell Cheyn
Rescue workers lift the wreckage of a police helicopter on to a trailer in central Glasgow, Scotland December 2, 2013. REUTERS/Russell Cheyn

LONDON (Reuters) - UK-based air services company Bond Aviation said on Thursday it had grounded its global fleet of 38 EC135 helicopters following a technical fault, less than two weeks after one of its aircraft crashed into a Scottish pub, killing nine people.

A company spokeswoman said one of the helicopters made by a subsidiary of aerospace group EADS had experienced an indicator defect on Wednesday but declined to give more details of where the incident took place.

"We are continuing to investigate that technical fault that resulted in us temporarily suspending operations," she said.

The incident came after a Bond Aviation helicopter leased to the police fell from the sky onto the Clutha pub in Glasgow on November 29, killing three crew and six others in the busy venue.

The dead included Bond Aviation pilot David Traill who was flying the helicopter and two police officers.

"Bond operates the helicopters for the air ambulance and for the police," the spokesman said.

So far, Britain's Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has found no evidence of engine or gear-box failure in that helicopter and investigations are continuing.

The Bond spokesman said the company was left with 22 EC135 helicopters operating in Britain after the Scotland crash and these had been suspended as a "precautionary measure". Sixteen more are overseas.

The company says on its website that it also operates in Ireland and Australia.

Established in 1961, Bond provides search and rescue, offshore crew-change transport, air ambulance support, police helicopter support, and specialist services such as offshore wind farm and lighthouse maintenance, and aerial lifting.

(Reporting by Belinda Goldsmith; editing by Stephen Addison)

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