BRISTOW HELICOPTERS has now taken delivery of all seven of the additional Sikorsky S-92 helicopters that were ordered to meet its requirements for UK search and rescue operations. Including four existing examples, the company now has eleven S-92s for operation on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to undertake the UK SAR mission.
Under the Gap SAR contract, Bristow had already been providing four S-92s for MCA operations in Shetland and the Western Isles since June 2013. The new UK SAR contract with Bristows began on April 1, 2015, when the first bases at Humberside and Inverness opened. The company will progressively take over SAR operations from the UK military until, by the summer of 2017, it will be flying from ten MCA bases around the UK, using eleven S-92s and a similar number of AgustaWestland AW189s. On July 1, bases at Caernarfon and Kent are due to go live, followed by St Athan on October 1, 2015. Prestwick and Newquay will become operational on January 1, 2016, followed by the remaining three bases at Lee-on-Solent, Sumburgh and Stornoway in 2017. Alan Warnes