Next gen helicopters join SAR base

Simon Hancock and Tom Greene Inverness SAR crew members Captain Simon Hancock (left) and Tom Greene. Credit: Bristow Helicopters Ltd

Inverness’ HM Coastguard search and rescue (SAR) helicopter base has received two Leonardo AW189 helicopters to serve the Highlands and Islands and beyond as part of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s (MCA) airborne response.

The Leonardo AW189 is the latest generation helicopter in its category and is designed to meet long-range, high endurance requirements for search and rescue missions in the most demanding operational and environmental conditions. Each GB£20m AW189 helicopter, painted in red and white HM Coastguard colours, is operated by Bristow Helicopters Limited, on behalf of HM Coastguard.

Damien Oliver, aviation programme director at MCA, said: “These Leonardo AW189 aircraft will enable us to continue to carry out even more vital life-saving missions across Scotland in an area where rescues can be very demanding on our crews and in difficult to reach locations.”

Latest technology

The helicopters are equipped with the latest search and rescue technology including night vision, mission management and increased onboard medical capabilities. They replace two Sikorsky S92 helicopters, which have been in active service out of Inverness since 2015.

John McIntyre, chief pilot at Inverness, said: “The AW189 has been a great success since it was introduced into UKSAR in 2017, completing more than 1200 missions operating from four bases – almost half of which have originated at our fellow Scottish base at Prestwick.

Bristow began operating the UK’s SAR helicopter service on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) in 2015.

By Rebecca Jeffrey

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