Bristow Helicopters has reached the first anniversary of delivering search and rescue helicopter operations on behalf of the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency from its bases at Cornwall Airport Newquay and Prestwick.
The service became operational on 1 January 2016, and since then the crews have responded to over 650 calls from the Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre.
Says chief pilot Mark Coupland: “It's been a great first year operating out of our purpose-built facility here in Newquay. We've had the privilege of delivering the lifesaving service to people on land and at sea as far away as the Channel Islands, the Isles of Scilly and over 150 miles to the south west.
“I spent a number of years serving either on 771 Squadron based at RNAS Culdrose or at RAF Chivenor, and many of the local personnel are familiar faces. I'd like to thank the surrounding communities for their continued support as we've transitioned to the new HM Coastguard service. We're looking forward to becoming an integral part of the community in the years to come.”
Bristow crews are delivering the UK SAR helicopter service using S-92s and AW189s equipped with the latest search and rescue technology including night vision, mission management and increased on-board medical capabilities.
“Our missions have seen us fly as far north as Aberdeen and as far south as Blackpool,” says Prestwick chief pilot Craig Sweeney. “In addition we have responded to numerous calls to the Western Isles, Northern Ireland and the east coast. Calls have varied from searches to time critical rescues, supporting the RNLI, Police Scotland, NHS Scotland and our fellow HM Coastguard Teams.
“In addition, we have operated in the hostile mountainous environ-ments of the Scottish Highlands and Lake District alongside the exceptional volunteers of the mountain rescue teams. These individuals never fail to surprise me with their capabilities and willingness to go the extra mile for those in need of help.”
Russell Torbet, director of UK SAR, states: “I'm extremely proud of our crews in Newquay, who have successfully maintained the high standards set by 771 SAR Squadron. SAR is a vital public service that requires an unfaltering level of dedication and commitment, and I'd like to congratulate everyone at the base for their part in getting us to this important milestone.”
Seven out of 10 UK SAR bases under a Maritime and Coastguard Agency contract are now operated by Bristow. Three more bases, two of which Bristow already runs, are set to become part of the contract this year.