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Work Starts on New Search and Rescue Helicopter Base at Inverness Airport

March 12, 2014

A groundbreaking ceremony on March 12, 2014, marked the start of construction of a new Search and Rescue (SAR) helicopter base at Inverness Airport.

The base will house state-of-the-art SAR helicopters, operated by Bristow Helicopters Ltd, their crews and support team. The base is due to become fully operational in April 2015, when Bristow Helicopters Ltd transitions the delivery of helicopter SAR services at bases across the UK on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).

“We have been working closely with the Inverness Airport team on this development and look forward to continuing our excellent working relationship with them throughout the build and once the base becomes operational.”

The Inverness base is one of seven new build facilities being developed by Bristow Helicopters Ltd, with its infrastructure delivery partner Balfour Beatty, at commercial airports 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 will include a raft of environmental technologies including PV solar panels and rainwater harvesting systems.

Today’s groundbreaking ceremony was attended by representatives of Inverness Airport, Balfour Beatty, Bristow Helicopters Ltd and consultants Deloitte who are acting as advisers to the helicopter operator for the UK SAR contract.

Mike Imlach, managing director of Bristow Helicopters Ltd, who was at the ceremony, said: “The start of construction of our new base here in Inverness today is an important and exciting milestone 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 Inverness Airport team 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.”

Inglis Lyon, Managing Director of Inverness Airport operator HIAL, also welcomed the start of work on the new base.

He said: “The new helicopter base is a significant addition to the airport and we are delighted to welcome Bristow Helicopters Ltd and their partners in this project on site. The Search and Rescue Service plays an important role in the Highlands and Inverness Airport is proud to serve as its Highland base.

“The opening of the new SAR base represents a major investment by Bristows and is a important boost for the Inverness Airport Business Park. It follows a £2.6 million investment by HIAL at Inverness Airport, including the resurfacing of the runway and the construction of a new taxiway, which will open up access to the emerging business park to allow for future development.

“We looking forward to welcoming the SAR team here once it is complete and passengers can be assured that the construction work will have no impact on the normal operation of the airport.”

Hector MacAulay, Balfour Beatty Delivery Unit Managing Director, added: “We are using our extensive experience of airport construction work to deliver this project at Inverness Airport 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 fulfil 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).

In addition to Inverness Airport, new build SAR helicopter bases are being developed at the commercial airports at Inverness, Humberside, Manston, Prestwick, Caernarfon, St Athan and Newquay. 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 programme of new build and refurbishment work across all ten bases will continue until early 2017.