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Work Starts on New Search and Rescue Helicopter Base at Glasgow Prestwick Airport

February 25, 2015

A ground-breaking ceremony on February 24, 2015, marked the start of construction of a new Search and Rescue (SAR) helicopter base at Glasgow Prestwick Airport.

The base will house two state-of-the-art helicopters operated by Bristow Helicopters Ltd, who will take over delivery of helicopter Search and Rescue services throughout the UK on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) from April this year. The service will be delivered from 10 strategically located bases across the UK which will go live in a phased approach, with Prestwick due to open on January 1, 2016.

The 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. 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 rainwater harvesting systems.

The ground-breaking ceremony was attended by representatives of Glasgow Prestwick Airport, Balfour Beatty and Bristow Helicopters Ltd.

Samantha Willenbacher, Bristow Helicopters Ltd’s UK Search and Rescue Director, said: “The start of construction of our new base here today is an important and exciting milestone for us as we work towards assuming responsibility for the delivery of UK SAR helicopter services later this year.

“We have been working closely with the Glasgow Prestwick 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.”

Graeme Sweenie, Chief Commercial Officer of Glasgow Prestwick Airport, also welcomed the start of work on the new base. He said: “I’m delighted that building work is now under way and we look forward to the new base becoming operational next year.

“My colleagues and I welcome Bristow Helicopters Ltd and their partners to the airport and we'll continue to work closely with them to ensure that construction of the base proceeds smoothly.

“There has been a search and rescue facility at Prestwick for forty-three years and today’s ceremony both continues and highlights this proud tradition.”

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

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. As well as the seven new build facilities, Bristow Helicopters Ltd will deliver the UK SAR contract from an existing MCA facility at Lee-on-Solent.