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Inverness Search and Rescue Helicopter Service Marks 500 Missions in 18 Months

November 09, 2016

The HM Coastguard air search and rescue (SAR) helicopter base in Inverness, operated by Bristow Helicopters Limited, has recently reached a milestone of 500 missions since the launch of the new civilian service on 1 April 2015.

Operating from a new, purpose-built base at Inverness Airport, the crews have delivered a vital, lifesaving service to the surrounding area by responding to taskings on-land, at sea and in remote, mountainous areas.

Russell Torbet, director of UK SAR, said: “Bristow’s heritage is steeped in search and rescue and our brave helicopter crews are currently delivering SAR all over the United Kingdom. The Inverness base has to date been one of the busiest, which is no surprise given its proximity to Scotland’s popular mountain ranges and coastal areas.

“I am immensely proud of our crews in Inverness, who have become a key part of the community and most importantly been instrumental in saving a significant number of lives over the past 18 months.”

As with the previous military service, the Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC) remains the tasking authority for all HM Coastguard search and rescue bases.

Inverness Chief Pilot, John McIntyre said: “We feel privileged to be serving the communities in and around Inverness and indeed further afield in Scotland. The engineering and support staff have laboured tirelessly to maintain over 98% availability of this critical service, allowing the aircrew to operate on 500 missions as far afield as Westray in Orkney and the Farne Islands in Northumberland, including many proud moments along the way”.

“As an Inverness man I’m also pleased to say that my fellow ‘Invernessions’ have made the crews feel incredibly welcome. We look forward to being an even bigger part of the community in the years to come”.

In 2013 Bristow won the UK Government national contract to deliver SAR operations on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). Seven of 10 strategically located bases have taken over the helicopter SAR responsibility from the military in a phased approach throughout 2015 and 2016. The remaining three are set to become part of the new contract in 2017.

About HM Coastguard
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) is a frontline delivery and emergency response organisation which is part of the Department for Transport.

Part of the MCA is HM Coastguard, which provides a UK-wide maritime emergency prevention and response capability which responds to calls for help by radio, satellite or the 999 service and coordinates maritime search and rescue (SAR) within the UK SAR region. The agency helps approximately 25,000 people each year with 21,000 incidents coordinated by its rescue centres.

About Bristow Helicopters Ltd
Bristow Helicopters Ltd is the provider of helicopter search and rescue (SAR) services in the UK, on behalf of Her Majesty's Coastguard, having been awarded the UK SAR contract and the Gap SAR contract for Northern Scotland. Bristow Helicopters has a long history of providing world class SAR services, beginning in 1971 at RAF Manston, and has flown more than 60,000 SAR operational hours in the UK and conducted over 15,000 SAR missions, during which more than 7,000 people have been rescued by our crews and helicopters. For more information on Bristow’s SAR operations, please visit

Bristow Helicopters Ltd. has served the offshore oil transport industry in the UK for nearly 60 years. Bristow Helicopters Ltd. is an affiliated company of Bristow Group Inc.

About Bristow Group
Bristow Group Inc. is the leading provider of helicopter services to the worldwide offshore energy industry based on the number of aircraft operated and one of two helicopter service providers to the offshore energy industry with global operations. The company has major transportation operations in the North Sea, Nigeria and the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, and in most of the other major offshore oil and gas producing regions of the world, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Russia and Trinidad. For more information, visit the Company's website at