AgustaWestland announced on March 4 that it has signed a contract with AAR Airlift Group to provide two new generation AW189 helicopters to perform search and rescue (SAR) in the Falkland Islands. AAR Airlift Group has been awarded a contract by the UK Ministry of Defence to deliver SAR services in the Falkland Islands and will use a mix of two AW189s and two Sikorsky S-61s.
The MOD’s existing fleet is comprised of Sea Kings and commercial S-61s. The AW189s will be delivered by the end of 2015 to support crew and personnel familiarization and will achieve operational readiness in spring 2016. AgustaWestland will also supply a comprehensive ten-year package of support and training services.
We are leveraging AAR Airlift Group’s experience in austere environments to expand into the offshore SAR market,’ said David P Storch, Chairman & CEO, AAR Corp. Based on our expertise in civil and military aviation operations, AAR has developed an advanced commercial SAR programme that will be well served by the state-of-the-art AW189.’
The event marks a further significant success for the new generation AW189 helicopter for search and rescue requirements, following the contract for eleven aircraft of the same type to meet the UK search and rescue requirement, replacing the iconic Sea King helicopters. An established US Department of Defense service provider, AAR is now awarded its first contract by a European defence ministry.
The AW189s will be operated out of Mount Pleasant Airfield on the South Atlantic islands with flight operations support from subcontractor British International Helicopters (BIH), performing missions in harsh environmental conditions where modern design and enhanced capabilities, extended range/endurance, and latest safety standards are key to demanding SAR mission accomplishment. Alan Warnes