The Bristow Group accepted its first Sikorsky S-92 helicopter, configured for search and rescue service, at the Sikorsky facility in Coatesville, Pennsylvania on 8 September 2014. Soon to be deployed in the UK, it will be part of a network of 10 bases to provide the United Kingdom with an effective SAR service, as part of a contract that begins in April 2015 and runs until 2026.
The UK SAR fleet of Bristow will have 22 aircraft, including 11 Sikorsky S-92s. The operating bases will be Inverness, Manston, Prestwick, Caernarfon, Humberside, Newquay, St. Athan, Lee-on-Solent, Sumburgh and Stornoway. Bristow – mostly known for its offshore activities – already flies 60 S-92s for other duties, plus 100 other Sikorsky rotorcraft.
Bristow Helicopters has a long history of providing SAR services in Great Brittain, dating back to 1971, when Whirlwind helicopters were replaced by Bristow S-55 helicopters at RAF Manston, in Kent. Then it started operating S-61 helicopters working at four SAR bases, Stornoway, Sumburgh, Lee-on-Solent and Portland, until 2007. In 2012 the company was awarded the UK Gap SAR contract for Northern Scotland and, working in partnership with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, currently operates four SAR helicopters from Sumburgh and Stornoway.
In total Bristow Helicopters has flown more than 44,000 SAR operational hours in the U.K. and conducted over 15,000 SAR missions, during which more than 7,000 people have been rescued by the company’s crews and helicopters.