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Crash helicopter 'underwent checks'

The police helicopter which crashed into a city pub with the loss of eight lives was one of many that underwent safety checks as a precaution last year, it has emerged.

Police Scotland said the Eurocopter EC135 Type 2 was tested on the advice of its operator Bond Air Services last July.

It happened after Scotland's two air ambulance helicopters were suspended following a warning about their safety.

Eurocopter, the helicopter manufacturer, issued a safety information notice about its EC135 fleet early last May after reports of cracks on the machines.

The company issued the notice after it was given reports about cracks on the lower hub shaft flange of the helicopter.

As a result, Bond Air Services, who operate the aircrafts on behalf of the Scottish Ambulance Service, decided to withdraw them from use.

The police helicopter was subjected to safety checks in July last year but was not withdrawn from service.

The force said: "In July 2012 we received a safety information notice from Eurocopter after a crack was found in the main rotor hub shaft of an EC135 helicopter in France.

"Following detailed inspection, in line with the latest airworthiness directive, no faults were identified and the force helicopter was available for operational deployment."

A Police Scotland spokesman said: "It was not withdrawn from service. It remained fully functional and available for operational deployment."

Eight people died and 12 people are in hospital with serious injuries following the crash at 10.25pm on Friday night.

Witnesses said the helicopter came down "like a stone" from the sky, hitting the roof of The Clutha in Glasgow when more than 100 people were inside the bar.

The three occupants of the Eurocopter EC135 T2 - two police officers and a civilian pilot - were among the dead, Police Scotland said.

Police have launched a major investigation under the direction of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch.

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