Ceremony Marks Construction Work On New Search and Rescue Helicopter Base at St Athan Airfield
December 03, 2014
A ceremony was held yesterday (December 2, 2014) to mark construction of a new Search and Rescue (SAR) helicopter base at St Athan Aerospace Business Park within the Enterprise Zone.
The base will house two state-of-the-art SAR helicopters, operated by Bristow Helicopters Ltd, their crews and support team. It is due to become fully operational in 2015, when Bristow Helicopters Ltd takes over delivery of helicopter Search and Rescue services throughout the UK on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).
The St Athan base is one of a number of new build facilities being developed by Bristow Helicopters Ltd, with its infrastructure delivery partner Balfour Beatty, at commercial airports and airfields around the UK. As the main contractor, Balfour Beatty is outsourcing various aspects of the building works to local contractors in the communities in which the bases are being established.
At the forefront of sustainability, the bases include a raft of environmental technologies including PV solar panels and rainwater harvesting systems.
The ceremony was attended by representatives of the Welsh Government, Balfour Beatty and Bristow Helicopters Ltd.
Samantha Willenbacher, Bristow Helicopters Ltd’s UK Search and Rescue Director, said: “The ongoing construction of our new base here is an important and exciting sign of progress for us as we work towards assuming responsibility for the delivery of UK SAR helicopter services next year.
“We have been working closely with the Welsh Government on this development and look forward to continuing our excellent working relationship with them throughout the build and once the base becomes operational.
“The base will provide modern, high quality accommodation for the aircraft and crews while demonstrating how buildings like this can be made highly sustainable and environmentally friendly.”
Bristow Helicopters Ltd has signed a long lease with the Welsh Government for the site on the Aerospace Business Park’s Rotary Zone.
Finance and Government Minister Jane Hutt said: “I am delighted to visit the base to hear about the progress being made on the new hangar and that this significant investment is set to create thirty new jobs. Bristow Helicopters is a welcome new addition to St Athan Aerospace Business Park and the Enterprise Zone which continue to attract high calibre companies to the area.”
Hector MacAulay, Balfour Beatty Delivery Unit Managing Director, added: “We are using our extensive experience of airport construction work to deliver this project at St Athan Airfield and the others which are vital to the ongoing success of this emergency service throughout the UK.
“We look forward to working with our supply chain partners to provide facilities that fulfill our customer’s expectations.”
Under Balfour Beatty’s contract arrangements with Bristow Helicopters Ltd, at least 35% of the companies they engage to work on the infrastructure projects will be small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The new SAR helicopter base at St Athan Airfield is due to become fully operational in 2015. A further six SAR helicopter bases are being developed at commercial airports around the country. Bristow Helicopters Ltd currently provides Search and Rescue services on behalf of the MCA at Stornoway, in the Western Isles and Sumburgh, in Shetland which will continue throughout the UK SAR contract. The tenth base which will be used by Bristow Helicopters Ltd to deliver the UK SAR contract is an existing MCA facility at Lee-on-Solent.
The program of new build and refurbishment work across all ten bases will continue until early 2017.
Photo caption: Natalie Dillon, UK SAR Infrastructure Co-Ordinator and Samantha Willenbacher, Director, UK Search and Rescue, at the St Athan construction site.