Photo courtesy of Bristow
As some U.K. Coastguard search and rescue bases close, others get a fresh start. Following the end of its operations from the Portland, England, base, the Coastguard’s base in Prestwick, Scotland, started flying with a new helicopter.
Starting July 1, the Prestwick base began using its new Leonardo AW189, operated by Bristow Helicopters Ltd., Bristow said, transitioning from using the Sikorsky S-92. Prestwick became the second base in the U.K. to fly the model for search and rescue missions, Bristow continued, with Lee-on-Solent in England as the first.
“The introduction of this new ground-breaking technology to our Prestwick base represents another very significant milestone,” said Damien Oliver, assistant director for aviation at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. “The two brand new AW189s to operate from Prestwick will be capable of working in all weathers and in the U.K.’s most challenging terrain.”
Her Majesty’s Coastguard has been reorganizing its search and rescue bases since contracting Bristow in 2013. Before making the decision to reorganize, the Coastguard had been operating with a mixture of military and civilian search and rescue agreements. CHC Helicopter had been operating the Portland base for a decade. Under the new arrangement, the Coastguard would operate 10 bases across the U.K., which all aim to fly new aircraft. Bristow said that over the next 18 months, the AW189 is to be introduced at bases in St. Athan, Wales; Lydd, England; and Iverness, Scotland.