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To quote the cliché: "A picture is worth a thousand words". This is certainly the case with the pictures of helicopters used by AAS. The images have been a crucial part of their scam.
On this page we analyse the photos in detail - and conclude that they can play a key role in efforts to stop AAS's activities.
The research and level of detail may seem to be overkill to you - but this sort of forensic detail might be essential if it went to court - to prove the case "beyond any reasonable doubt".
Bear in mind that genuine air ambulance charities have been losing thousands of pounds in donations because of the activities of AAS.
The image is misleading - it's a photograph of the emergency helicopter used by Essex Air Ambulance charity until June 2010. Details of this are given below - together with the implications for taking legal action against AAS. In reality :
The image above shows the top of a clothing collection leaflet distributed by AAS - in mid-2010.
See the bottom of the page for an image of the complete leaflet.
To see more detail of the image, you can enlarge either (a) the image above, or (b) the image of the complete leaflet (at the bottom of the page). To enlarge it:
- With some programs (eg web browsers) hold down the Control key while rotating the scroll wheel of the mouse.
- Alternatively, right-click and save the image to a file - then open it in any photo-editing program.
Source: The image comes from an article on the website of the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Air Ambulance charity (HIOWAA) - headed "Generous donors feel misled" (dated 2 June 2010). Our thanks to the charity. See the charity's website:
The yellow helicopter is a Eurocopter EC135 model (made in Bavaria, Germany).
This twin-engine aircraft is one of the most common types of helicopter used by emergency air ambulance charities in the UK. See :
Thus, the impression is being given by AAS that they operate (and/or help fund) an emergency air ambulance service - either a charity or a government service. However, they don't operate this type of service - so it's misleading.
The helicopter shown on AAS's leaflets is the Essex Air Ambulance charity's helicopter (a Eurocopter EC135 T2, registration mark G-SSXX) - which was in service from May 2003 to June 2010.
On 29 June 2010, it was transferred to NW Air Ambulance charity (NWAA) - and registered as G-NWEM. See the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) website:
www.caa.co.uk/ ... regmark=NWEM
There are numerous photos of the Essex helicopter on the Internet. One good, large photo is on the website of "Air-Scene UK". It's taken from a similar angle (by Garry Lakin). See: www.airsceneuk.org.uk/airshow04/southend/ec135.htm *
There are several pieces of evidence which support this identification. In particular, the chequered pattern of green squares on AAS's photo matches exactly those on photos of the Essex helicopter - for example the number of squares (upper row: 16, lower row: 17), their size, position and the truncated shape of the square in the lower row at the rear (RHS). Also, the green underbelly of the machine matches.
Editing - It seems that the photo used by AAS has been edited. The original photo would have included the name of the ambulance ("Essex ... " etc) - which was painted on the aircraft in two places on both sides. It appears that these names have been removed (using software such as Adobe Photoshop).
The tail of the aircraft - This is not visible in AAS's photo - so its Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) registration mark can't be checked.
The original photo - So far on Google, we haven't found the original photo used by AAS. However, someone may recognise it in due course. This would help matters.
The charity have examined the photo on AAS's leaflet - and they've confirmed that it was their aircraft. We are grateful to Essex AA for their help.
See the website of the Essex charity :
www.essexairambulance.uk.com/YourHelicopter/Gallery/tabid/76/language/en-GB/Default.aspx (see the bottom RHS - images of their old helicopter - the EC135)
Also see various other similar photos of the Essex helicopter including :
It helps if you "mirror" it first (in a photo-editing program) - so it faces to the left.
Eurocopter UK have kindly investigated the issue. For example, they checked their archive of photographs, including images of the Essex helicopter. In relation to the helicopter shown on AAS's leaflets, our understanding is that Eurocopter have concluded that :
We're grateful to Eurocopter UK for their help.
These conclusions regarding the nature and identity of the helicopter on the leaflets of AAS, reinforce the case against AAS - showing that their leaflets are misleading, because :
However, the services which AAS allege they'll provide are completely different.
This has legal implications regarding enforcement, as follows :
Their website: www.AirAmbulanceService.org.uk
This is a Bell 407 (or a very similar model) - made in the US. This is a single-engine machine. This is not legal for use by air ambulances in the UK because it has only one engine.
The belly of the helicopter shown has a prominent white cross in a red circle - presumably indicating medical use.
A search of Google found the original photo used by AAS - on the iStockphoto website, on the following page :
This web page on the iStockphoto site has a list of keywords for the image, as follows:
Every aspect of this original photo matches the one used by AAS - including the pattern of clouds in the sky.
This is a "Eurocopter EC135 par hermes" model ('L'Hélicoptère par Hermès). This is a rare deluxe version of the EC135, with the interior designed in conjunction with "Hermes" - a French luxury fashion house. For example it has expensive leather seats. It's not used by air ambulances - it's sold to the rich - for example in the Middle East. It wouldn't be suitable for use as an air ambulance - because of its type of interior and high cost.
A search of Google found the original photo used by AAS - which has been photo-edited by creating an oval fade-vignette. The original photo can be seen on several websites, including the following (the image filename is "hph02.jpg"):