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Bristow’s new aircraft for UK Gap Search and Rescue contract arrive in Scotland

March 07, 2013

Two of the four Sikorsky S-92 helicopters that will service the UK Gap Search and Rescue (SAR) contract for Northern Scotland have now arrived in Scotland and have begun training flights from Inverness Airport.

The new helicopters feature a raft of state-of-the-art technology, some of which has never before been used in commercial search and rescue aircraft, and will enable Bristow to provide unprecedented search and rescue capabilities.

Bristow invested in the latest night vision goggle technology in order to give the Gap SAR crews the very best equipment to be able to operate safely. The latest generation image intensifier tubes used in NVG require an export license agreement with the U.S. State Department.

"Our new S-92 search and rescue aircraft are the first type in Europe to be certified for night vision goggle (NVG) technology," said SAR Commercial Manager Simon Tye. "The technology is essential when responding to night time incidents, particularly in Northern Scotland where winter days are short and operations can extend into the hours of darkness."

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

“Our new S-92s have improved forward-looking infrared (FLIR) and thermal imaging camera technology for more effective searches,” said Tye, “and high illumination lighting to make winching easier and safer. This will be particularly useful when operating in confined spaces or conducting cliff rescues. The long range fuel tanks will allow us to operate across the vast distances in Scotland we will be servicing.”

The new S-92s are the first aircraft in Europe to be fitted with Trulink® wireless capabilities for communications between the aircraft and crew, while the wireless intercom system now allows winchmen to not only communicate with the aircraft but also to communicate with nearby vessels in the event that they are left behind at the scene. A much improved external public address system will allow the SAR crew to communicate far more clearly with causalities on the ground below.

The medical zone intercom allows the cabin and cockpit to be split into isolated zones, meaning medical teams can work on a patient without the flight crew being distracted. Improved cabin lighting, including emergency white light, will enable advanced medical procedures to be carried out onboard. In addition, the cabins are fitted with 230 volt ac power outlets so that the SAR aircraft can operate advanced medical equipment onboard. Bristow have designed a bespoke cabin layout to accommodate more casualties and medical equipment safely.

Bristow will commence operation of the Gap SAR contract from Sumburgh on 1 June and from Stornoway on 1 July 2013. Two S-92s will be stationed at each base.