Guernsey airport-based and volunteer-led search and rescue organisation Channel Islands Air Search (CIAS) has taken delivery of the latest BN2B-20 piston Islander and has completed its acceptance programme. The company partnered with Britten-Norman under its EASA Part 21 approval to create a bespoke aircraft design to meet the exact needs of its 24-hour rapid response service.
The new aircraft is fitted with the latest role-specific equipment to enhance CIAS’ capability. A new modification has incorporated both an electro-optical/infrared sensor and a marine radar in the nose of the aircraft. The multi sensor Wescam MX-10 feeds back live information to two operator consoles to display data in real time. As with all new Britten-Norman Islanders, the aircraft is also equipped with a Garmin G600 TXi touchscreen foundation flight cockpit that incorporates electronic instru-ment displays and the multifunction GTN series nav/com/GPS.
It features a red and white colour scheme in line with the inter-nationally recognised colours for search and rescue services. It was blessed at Jersey airport by the Dean of Jersey and the Dean of Guernsey in April and will carry the registration 2-CIAS, retaining the name Lions’ Pride to acknowledge the continued support of the Jersey and Guernsey Lions Clubs.
CIAS has operated Islanders for 30 years and after its original aircraft was withdrawn from service five years ago having flown some 1,900 hours for the company, it was supported by Britten-Norman with an interim search and rescue Islander aircraft. The BN2A Islander served CIAS well but it was missing the all important FLIR camera. Meanwhile the OEM embarked on a complex build programme to create a customer-defined bespoke long-term search and rescue solution.
CIAS founder and trustee captain Roger Dadd flew the new aircraft for the first time at the end of May, joined by the full search crew, and says: “I found the aircraft a delight to fly; its capacity is phenomenal and it has much reduced noise levels. The crew of is so pleased with what is the best search and rescue aircraft of its type in the world.”
CIAS has been operating for almost 40 years. The charity covers 5,000 sqm of sea and works with the coastguards of the Channel Islands and France. The charity holds The Queens Award for Voluntary Service.
2-CIAS is equipped with the latest avionics linked to an autopilot, a FLIR camera with greatly enhanced capabilities all connected together and controlled by navigation, and mission management software.
The FLIR camera, as well as having more stable and powerful cameras, offers features such as a laser range-finder and has the ability to blend the images from the different cameras to give the crew an enhanced view.