Soteria unveils helicopter capabilities

The Soteria Consortium has unveiled further details of its bid to provide a single Search and Rescue Helicopter (SAR-H) capability in the UK.



Following the announcement that it will be using the Sikorsky helicopter, the consortium claim that their S92 aircraft is now equipped with technological advances to provide a SAR-H resource that could be rolled out globally.



David Rae, Soteria’s bid director, said: ‘This years requirement for the interim contract did not specify new technologies when it came out to tender, however CHC believe that the time had come to bring civil SAR in the UK in line with technology that we were using in the oil and gas environment.’



The consortium, which includes RBS, Thales and CHC, believe that the combination of increased capacity and safety on the S92 will not only provide maritime, aeronautical and overland support but also aid in military operations.



Captain Richard Dane, a S92 pilot under Interim SAR, said: ‘What makes the aircraft special is the aggregate of its capabilities. Many aircraft have some of what the S92 has got but none to my knowledge have all of it.’



These capabilities include an infrared camera, the ability to land on sloping ground 10 degree fore and 13 degree laterally, a twin hoist that can provide 290 feet of lift capacity, an automatic identification system (AIS) and increased cabin space.



Dane said: ‘There’s one thing that you’re absolutely sure of with some of these aircrafts – where it says you are you are definitely not because of drift. The S92 has four GPS systems of board so we’re fairly confident that it’s accurate.’



He added: ‘The navigation systems are straightforward and the same as you’d expect to find on a Boeing 757. We’ve also got an enhanced rapid facility in the form of a 3D screen displaying what’s ahead of you that we use in conjunction with other aids such as inter traffic avoidance and the AIS.’



The infrared camera can be switched to display body heat in either black or white depending on the preference of the pilot and surrounding conditions, and is powerful enough to spot an individual on a mountainside from 4,000ft.


‘That same aid can be also used for navigation in the dark, to complement other technologies in the suite,’ Dane said.



The Soteria team is competing with the AirKnight consortium that has put forward the Eurocopter EC225. The unified SAR-H service is expected to begin operations in 2012.



Ellie Zolfagharifard