Bristow Helicopter's search and rescue crew based at Sumburgh airport has completed more than 150 missions, rescued over 40 individuals, and assisted an additional 120 persons in its first 12 months of operations. Its crew at Stornoway has in turn completed over 160 missions, rescuing more than 30 individuals, and assisting a further 100 people.
The operator commenced operations at Sumburgh on 1 June 2013 and at Stornoway on 1 July 2013, but has a 40-year history of delivering SAR in the UK, 24 years of which were conducted from these two bases up until 2007 under the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).
To deliver the contract, Bristow introduced four Sikorsky S-92 helicopters, each capable of flying over 250 nautical miles and equipped with the latest SAR technology including night vision, mission management and increased on-board medical capabilities.
Mike Imlach, Bristow md says: “Our new Sikorsky S-92 search and rescue aircraft have performed extremely well and have proven themselves adept to the wide range of conditions and operational requirements we encounter in the region.
“As ever we are proud to be delivering this long running and vital service and we hope that the work of our crews has been of value to the communities they serve.”
In November 2013 Bristow held an event to celebrate 30 years of search and rescue at Sumburgh and to acknowledge the dedication and bravery of the helicopter teams who have helped to deliver it. The unit was presented with the Coastguard Meritorious Award by the MCA. Earlier this year one of the Sumburgh aircraft was named Oscar Charlie in honour of the Sikorsky S61N helicopter that served the northern islands for 23 years.
The company is in the process of expanding its operations across the UK as it prepares to take over the UK-wide SAR contract on behalf of the MCA next year. Bristow will deliver the service from ten strategically located bases across the UK using a fleet of S-92 and AgustaWestland AW189 helicopters. The Sumburgh and Stornoway bases will transition into the UK-wide service in 2017 and will continue under that contract until 2026.