Babcock MCS Onshore
BAN's World GazetteerU.K.
Media reports that Agusta Westland has evicted an air ambulance service from one of its airfields because it flew a different manufacturer's machine have been deemed a "silly-season story" by Agusta.
However, Agusta told EBAN that Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance had recently renewed the contract for the EC135T2 it operates, adding: "We would have preferred it if it had been one of our products."
It is understood that the air ambulance is now without a hangar at Agusta's airfield due to a lack of space. Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance was, until March this year, sharing a hangar with Vanguard Helicopters at Henstridge airfield in Somerset.
But the hangar recently came up for sale and the ambulance moved to Agusta's base at RNAS Yeovilton.
A month later, local media allege, Agusta's ceo Giuseppe Orsi, unhappy that the air ambulance was flying a rival maker's helicopter, asked them to find alternative arrangements.
Dorset and Somerset air ambulance confirmed that they "have had dealings with Agusta Westland" and are "looking for an alternative site". They declined to comment further.
Geoff Russell, a spokesman for Agusta, says: "They [Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance] have been told that they can remain operating as they are from our airfield for as long as they require, until they find new facilities. They signed a contract relatively recently, or certainly renewed their contract through Bond, who provides them with the EC135, so obviously we would have preferred it to be one of our products."
Russell says there was no written agreement between Agusta and the air ambulance. "They had to move out of Henstridge at short notice and it was agreed they could come here, there was no contract in place in terms of how long they would stay.
"We said we could provide office space, what we can't provide is hangarage," he says.
He adds that the local press had not accurately reported the story. "The whole air ambulance thing is quite emotional, a lot of people support it. From the local press point of
view, it was a good story in terms of playing up the fact they were being booted out, which wasn't really the whole truth behind it. We've never said to them 'You have to get off-site by a certain date.'"