Norway-based operator CHC Helikopterservice has launched a civilian-operated rescue helicopter service for Svalbard, the archipelago midway between Norway and the North Pole. Under the 10 year contract, CHC will provide 24/7 emergency rescue helicopters with a six person crew, including a doctor, flying two Airbus AS332L1 and one backup aircraft.
EMEA’s general operations manager Per Andre Rykhus says: “We are honoured that the Norwegian Ministry of Justice has placed its trust in CHC to provide this vital service. I know our team will work diligently and with great pride, continuing the highest standards of emergency preparedness and safety at Svalbard. Our pilots and rescue crews are among the most highly trained and experienced in the world.”
Kevin Spengler, vice president of Heli-One, CHC's rotary maintenance, repair, and overhaul subsidiary, adds: “We are pleased to have collaborated with our colleagues in CHC Helikopterservice on this critical project. Heli-One has extensive experience of numerous aircraft types, including the AS332. We offer a one-stop solution for design, manufacture and installation of modifications that modernise and enhance the operational capabilities of mission critical aircraft.”
One of the world’s northernmost inhabited areas, Svalbard is known for its rugged, remote terrain of glaciers and frozen tundra sheltering polar bears, Svalbard reindeer and Arctic foxes. Temperatures reach -30C in the winter, and it experiences midnight sun in the summer and polar night in the winter. Glacial ice covers approximately 60 per cent of the region and the population is estimated to be just under 3,000. The three main industries on Svalbard are coal mining, tourism and research.
Svalbard as a region is vast; the area is roughly the same size as the whole southern and central Norway. The helicopter SAR base is in Longyearbyen. There are fuel depots in the island around Svalbard and part of the operations will include checking and changing fuel each summer. These missions will take weeks and will utilise a unique ship called Polarsyssel.