WILTSHIRE Air Ambulance's helicopter is flying again after being grounded for 11 months.

Yesterday, the Civil Aviation Authority awarded the charity its own air operator’s licence.

This means the air ambulance can immediately return to service.

The charity is now just one of four air ambulances which hold its own operator’s licence.

WAA chief executive David Philpott said: “This has been a hard slog and has taken a lot longer than we anticipated – and a lot longer than it really should have.

“I would like to thank everyone who has worked tirelessly for the charity.They have all gone the extra mile.

“Our pilots, paramedics and charity staff deserve immense credit for their work during this challenging period, along with our dedicated volunteers who are out supporting the charity at events come rain or shine.

“Importantly, we are now able to return to what we are here to do – providing helicopter emergency medical services for the people of Wiltshire and surrounding areas.”

Over the past 11 months, the charity has relied on leasing a helicopter and its rapid-response land vehicles.

Following a CAA assurance the licence would be issued soon, the charity cancelled a contingency arrangement with Specialist Aviation Services for the use of the back-up helicopter.

The situation arose after the WAA Bell 429 helicopter was grounded in the first week of January because of technical problems. The charity was then had to apply for its own air operator’s licence when Heli Charter, the company which held the previous AOC, went bust.