More than 1,000 search and rescue (SAR) missions were completed by the Irish Coast Guard (ICG) during 2015. The milestone, achieved in partnership with CHC Helicopter, using a fleet of five Sikorsky S-92 helicopters, was announced by Sikorsky parent company Lockheed Martin today, February 16, on the opening day of the Singapore Air Show.
This represents an increase of 12% over the previous year, beating the record on 914 missions in 2014. It is the first time since 1991 that the ICG has achieved 1,000 missions in a single year.
CHC has a ten-year contract, awarded in 2010, to provide S-92A SAR helicopters, crew and maintenance services on behalf of the ICG from bases in Dublin, Shannon, Sligo and Waterford. Director of the ICG, Chris Reynolds, said: “High aircraft availability is one of the main reasons behind the high number of missions. This year we achieved in excess of 96% 24/7 operational availability at 15 minutes’ notice (between 0730hrs and 2130hrs) and 45 minutes’ notice thereafter at all of our four bases, which is an exceptional achievement. The Coast Guard operates one of the world’s most sophisticated search and rescue services. We are very proud of the service that is delivered by a very special team of men and women dedicated to saving life anywhere in Ireland and in all weathers.”
CHC’s S-92 SAR aircraft can cruise at 145 knots/166 mph, and can fly for over four hours without refuelling. On-board state-of-the-art technology includes: High Definition Forward Looking Infra-Red (FLIR) and thermal image camera technology, night vision goggle (NVG) systems including glass cockpit, icing protection system, twin hoist and a comprehensive medical suite.
CHC and Sikorsky have shared a close relationship supporting SAR service in Ireland since 2005, initially with a fleet of six S-61N all-weather SAR helicopters. This contract replaced all military and civil supported coastguard missions for the first time and established a stand-alone SAR service from the same four bases from which the five S-92 aircraft now operate. Alan Warnes