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Bristow Unveils First State-of-the-art Aircraft for U.K. GAP SAR

February 01, 2013

The first of four Sikorsky S-92 helicopters that will service the U.K. GAP SAR contract starting later this year is nearly finished and on track to begin training flights in February. It’s a state-of-the-art aircraft that will enable Bristow to provide unprecedented search and rescue capabilities.

"For the first time in European civil aviation, a large multi-engine helicopter will be able to be flown under night-vision goggle (NVG) technology," says GAP SAR Project Manager Ian Middleton. "The Department for Transport and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency contracted Bristow to provide SAR helicopters that can operate in Northern Scotland in all weather conditions, day and night. Our GAP SAR helicopters are entering a completely new theater of operations using this technology."

Bristow invested in the latest NVG technology in order to give GAP SAR crews the very best equipment to be able to operate safely. The latest-generation image intensifier tubes used in NVG are difficult to obtain and required an export license agreement with the U.S. State Department.

Leading-edge technology

In addition to night vision capabilities, other SAR-related features on the S-92 represent the latest and most comprehensive technology available, including:

  • An L3 Wescam MX-15iHD FLIR/TV camera turret that provides infrared search capability and a high-definition video camera in a fully stabilized and movable turret beneath the nose
  • A Honeywell Skyforce Observer 2000 mapping system in the rear crew mission station. The system provides detailed mapping and search information on a 20-inch LCD color touch screen
  • Multiple communications systems, including high frequency, VHF AM/FM radio, UHF radio, satellite communications, satellite tracking of the helicopter, marine vessel transponder, secure communications capabilities and wireless intercoms
  • A multiple casualty-stretcher arrangement in the cabin
  • A long-range fuel tank to increase operating range
  • A dual Goodrich rescue hoist installation
  • A Nightsun XP steerable searchlight

The GAP SAR contract start date is June 1, with the transition of the Sumburgh base from the present contractor to Bristow. The transition of the second base, Stornoway, will take place on July 1. Two S-92s will be stationed at each base.