UK-based Bristow Helicopters is to use the Iridium OpenPort broadband service via LiveAero to enable high-speed connectivity on its SAR Sikorsky S-92 helicopters.
The operator says that Iridium has demonstrated its ability to provide reliable in-flight broadband connectivity on rotorcraft.
“Our contract requires us to transmit medical data from aircraft and the LiveAero Iridium connectivity will enable this,” says UK SAR director Samantha Willenbacher.
“Bristow has had Iridium connectivity in all commercial aircraft for over six years now, to track all of our aircraft for flight following purposes. Our Gap SAR aircraft at Stornoway and Sumburgh have satellite connectivity for flight tracking and satellite telephone communications.”
The operator’s contract with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency began in 2013 from Stornoway and Sumburgh. By summer 2017, 10 helicopter bases will be fully operational across the UK.
The urgent nature of this work requires a reliable communications network, and LiveAero and Iridium broadband connectivity will enable SAR teams to provide enhanced in-flight care and triage such as fully automated electronic patient information and real-time transmissions of patient vitals to medical facilities on the ground.
Adds Willenbacher: “This connectivity will benefit the crew and the casualty. The rear technical crew will have direct, real time connectivity to a hospital trauma centre allowing trauma teams to better prepare to receive incoming casualties.
“2015 is an exciting year for Bristow as the first five of our ten UK search and rescue helicopter bases
go live. Our focus will be on making the final preparations for the service commencing and ensuring a smooth transition from the existing military service.”