Wiltshire Air Ambulance is today flying again after the Civil Aviation Authority awarded the charity its own operating licence.

The Semington-based charity announced it has received its Air Operator Certificate after a 11-month wait.

This will enable the air ambulance return to Helicopter Emergency Medical Service immediately.

The charity is now just one of four air ambulances who hold their own operators licence.

David Philpott, the WAA chief executive 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 to get the AOC; they have all gone the extra mile.

“Our trustees have provided rock solid support throughout the process. Equally, the backing from our ambassadors and local MPs has been very welcome.

“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.”

The charity’s Bell 429 helicopter is now available to be called to incidents immediately.

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

Despite having passed CAA flight inspections in August, the delay in awarding the operator's licence has cost WAA thousands of pounds to hire a back-up helicopter.

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.

In September, the WAA said it had been left "extremely frustrated" by the long wait.

The situation arose after the Bell 429 was initially grounded in the first week of January because of technical problems.

The charity was then forced to apply for its own air operator's licence when Heli Charter, the company which held the previous AOC, went bust.