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Topping Out Ceremony Marks Construction Milestone at New Search and Rescue Helicopter Base

July 01, 2014

A traditional topping out ceremony has taken place to mark the construction of the new search and rescue helicopter base at Humberside Airport reaching its full height.

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 April 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 Humberside 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 around the UK.

The leader of North Lincolnshire Council, Councillor Liz Redfern joined representatives of the MCA, Bristow Helicopters, Humberside Airport, Balfour Beatty, and consultants Deloitte who are acting as advisers to the helicopter operator, at the ceremony.

Neil Grant, Transition Manager with the MCA, said: “This ceremony marks not only the successful completion of a stage of this project in Humberside but the beginning of a new search and rescue helicopter service for the UK.”

Samantha Willenbacher, Bristow Helicopters Ltd’s UK Search and Rescue Director said the ceremony marked another important milestone as the company works towards assuming responsibility for the delivery of UK SAR helicopter services next year.

She added: “The base here at Humberside was the first of our new builds to get underway, so it’s great to see it really taking shape and reaching this exciting stage in its construction.

“Balfour Beatty and the companies working with them are doing an excellent job for us here and at the other bases we are building and I would again like to thank the management of Humberside Airport for their continuing support and co-operation.”

Cllr Redfern said: “It is yet more fantastic news for Humberside Airport that Bristow Helicopters Ltd has chosen to build a major UK search and rescue base at the airport.

“It’s great for North Lincolnshire to see even more well-established companies coming to the area. This is yet another step forward for the airport and North Lincolnshire. Humberside Airport has the second largest helicopter facility in the UK, which is the perfect location for the search and rescue unit.

“I would very much like to welcome Bristow to North Lincolnshire who are now a major shareholder in Humberside Airport. We will all be working closely together as the project advances.”

Under Balfour Beatty’s contract arrangements with Bristow Helicopters Ltd, at least 35 percent of the companies they engage to work on the infrastructure projects will be small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

At the forefront of sustainability, the Humberside base and other new build bases will include a raft of environmental technologies including PV solar panels and rainwater harvesting systems.

Hector MacAulay, Balfour Beatty Delivery Unit Managing Director, added: “We are pleased to have reached this significant milestone in the construction of the search and rescue helicopter base at Humberside Airport.

“We look forward to continuing to work closely with our customer and supply chain partners to complete this project and deliver the other bases which are vital to the ongoing success of this emergency service throughout the UK.“

In addition to Humberside Airport, a further six SAR helicopter bases are being developed at the commercial airports around the country, with construction already underway at Inverness and Caernarfon. Bristow Helicopters Ltd currently provide search and rescue services 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: Neil Grant of the MCA, Councillor Liz Redfern and Samantha Willenbacher of Bristow Helicopters Ltd

Related: Work Starts on New Search and Rescue Helicopter Base at Humberside Airport