Future of UK helicopter SAR
The DfT has announced the signing of a £1.6 billion contract to provide UK's search and rescue helicopter services.
The award of the contract to Bristow Helicopters was announced on 26 March by the Secretary of State for Transport. It will run for 7-10 years.
UK SAR is currently provided by RAF and RN personnel using Sea King helicopters from 8 bases, and through a civilian helicopter service under contract to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) from 4 bases.
The new service will operate in a similar manner to the existing MCA contract - and will be managed by the MCA itself.
The new service will operate a mixed fleet of 22 state-of-the-art helicopters from 10 locations around the UK, all operating on a 24/7 basis:
- Sikorsky S92 helicopters will continue to be based at the existing MCA bases at Stornoway and Sumburgh, and at new bases at Newquay, Caernarfon and Humberside.
- AgustaWestland AW189 helicopters will operate from Lee-on-Solent, Prestwick, and new bases at St Athan, Inverness and Manston.
The DfT explains that these locations are strategically placed near areas with high SAR incident rates and will help ensure maximum operational coverage across the UK while reducing transit times to incidents.
The new SAR service will become operational during a phased transition between spring 2015 and early 2016, with the MCA’s 4 current bases transitioning to the new service in 2017 - hence, by summer 2017 the new contractor will be fully operational at all 10 bases.
Details from the DfT link below . .