UK's Helicopter Search And Rescue Privatised

All the UK’s helicopter search and rescue are to be taken over by private company, the Bristow Group, the Department for Transport has announced.

The company has won a ten year contract to operate the service, with Bristow replacing ageing RAF and Royal Navy Sea King helicopters with modern Sikorsky S-92s and AgustaWestland 189s, from 2015.

The £1.6bn deal ends 70 years of search and rescue from the RAF and Royal Navy.

22 helicopters will operate from 10 locations, under the new contract.

Ten S-92s will be based, two per site, at Stornoway and Sumburgh, and at new bases at Newquay, Caernarfon and Humberside airports.

Ten AW189s will operate, two per site, from Lee-on-the-Solent and a new hangar at Prestwick airport, and new bases which will be established at St Athan, Inverness and Manston airports.

All bases will be operational 24 hours a day, and half of the new fleet will be built in Yeovil, Somerset.

The new deal will also see Bristow take over some of the civilian SAR bases currently run by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.


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