At HAI Heli-Expo 2015 last month, Sikorsky held a recognition ceremony for Bristow Helicopters Ltd., highlighting the upcoming launch of the company’s UK search and rescue (SAR) contract. Bristow was awarded a 10-year UK SAR contract in March 2013, with services starting on April 1, 2015, on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).
|Jonathan Baliff, Sergei Sikorsky, Richard Parkes and Shane Eddy after the recognition ceremony at HAI Heli-Expo 2015. Photo by Katie Kriz|
Bristow’s SAR fleet will feature 11 EASA-certified Sikorsky S-92 helicopters. Attending the ceremony were Jonathan Baliff, president and CEO of Bristow, Richard Parkes, director of Maritime Operations at the MCA in the UK, Shane Eddy, president of commercial systems and services at Sikorsky, and Sergei Sikorsky, son of Sikorsky founder Igor Sikorsky.
Baliff explained that the S-92s “are not our helicopters. They are the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s helicopters, and they’re flown by Bristow personnel. Many of those personnel are the same personnel that are currently flying the 202 squadron in Humberside in Lincolnshire.”
“It’s an honor, but it’s also very humbling for Bristow to be part of the UK search and rescue, SAR, contract,” said Baliff. “We’re humble, but we have great reserve and great confidence that we’re going to serve this contract to, not only the best of our ability, but we’d be blessed to serve it in the same way that the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force have done it for 70 years.”
|Sikorsky S-92 at HAI Heli-Expo 2015. Photo by Katie Kriz|
According to Baliff, Bristow will be flying with about two-thirds of military crews, supplemented by the company’s current crews flying SAR missions. He also mentioned that they are on schedule to go live with the contract on April 1, as planned.
Speaking at the event, Sergei Sikorsky addressed both Parkes and Baliff, saying, “One word to both of you gentlemen: Thank you for keeping my father’s dream alive.”
“Igor’s dream was that a helicopter be used as a life saving device,” said Eddy. “Sergei is true to his father’s legacy, as he helped bring the realization of the search and rescue mission to the forefront. If Igor were here today, he would be proud to see how far technology and innovation has brought us, and how great these helicopters are. But Igor’s dream would not have become a reality without the help of customers like Bristow, without the help of the MCA, and we take trust and pride in our aircraft’s ability to save lives of those in danger.”
Sikorsky and Bristow have done business for more than 40 years. The Bristow fleet currently features more than 160 Sikorsky aircraft of various types.