Sikorsky search and rescue

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Soteria, the consortium bidding for a UK search and rescue helicopter (SAR-H) contract, has chosen the 166mph Sikorsky S-92 as its preferred mission aircraft.

The consortium, which includes CHC Helicopter Corporation, Thales UK and the Royal Bank of Scotland, is taking part in the competitive process led by the Ministry of Defence and Department of Transport to create a single SAR-H entity to succeed the existing service.

David Rae, the Soteria bid director, said: ‘We are absolutely confident that the S92 is the right aircraft for this new era in UK SAR services. Specifically configured for SAR operations, it has already established an excellent track record and possesses the power, speed and technological capabilities to deliver SAR services in the most testing of conditions.’

Currently search and rescue is provided by the Sea King helicopter operated by the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). The new service will replace existing search and rescue with a single contract to provide complete operations from 12 bases around the UK. The service will be rolled out in 2012 and each base is expected to run for 25 years.

CHC has already used the SAR S92s in the UK, deploying them from the MCA bases at Stornoway and Shetland as part of its interim contract with the agency. It is claimed the S92 has responded to more than 300 SAR missions while maintaining aircraft availability levels in excess of 98 per cent.