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NEW UK SEARCH & RESCUE FLEET

Friday March 29th, 2013
NEW UK SEARCH & RESCUE FLEET

The Department for Transport (DfT) has signed a contract with Bristow Helicopters Ltd to provide search and rescue helicopter services across the UK. House Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin MP said that the new £1.6 billion contract will ‘see the UK benefit from improved flying times and better coverage of high-risk areas.’

He told the press, “Our search and rescue helicopter service plays a crucial role, saving lives and providing assistance to people in distress on both land and on sea... With 24 years of experience providing search and rescue helicopter services in the UK, the public can have great confidence in Bristow and their ability to deliver a first class service with state-of-the-art helicopters”.

The package means that helicopters will be able to reach a greater area of the UK Search and Rescue region within an hour than is currently possible with an overall improvement in flying times to incidents of around 20%. High risk areas that are reachable in 30 minutes will increase from 70% to 85% using the most up to date helicopters available.

RYA Cruising Manager, Stuart Carruthers said, “We are very satisfied that Government has made this announcement... We had considerable concerns that there would be a real capability gap in the UK SAR service when the initial PFI replacement was cancelled because of the imminent retirement of the Sea Kings at the end of their planned life... Bristow Group's 10-year £1.6 billion contract to run the service from 2015 will be on the blackboard a better SAR service than that which is currently provided because of the capability of the new helicopters.

'The MOD and the MCA have had considerable experience of working together with Bristow in the past they are a known commodity... The new Sikorsky S-92s and AgustaWestland 189s can fly at 140 knots - 30 knots faster than the obsolescent RAF and Royal Navy Sea King helicopters'.

The operation will commence in 2015 with all 22 of the new helicopters in action by 2017
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