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Bristow adds offshore AW189 in UK – impacts SAR fleet too

August 7, 2017

Today, Bristow Helicopters is taking delivery of another AW189 from the Leonardo factory in Italy – serial 89002 and registered G-OENC. This will join the first two Bristow offshore AW189s G-OENA and G-OENB in the near future. The crew made a lunch stop at Clermont-Ferrand in France en route to the UK.

The new aircraft will free up another AW189 to return to the SAR fleet. During the time that the AW189 was not being used on the Maritime and Coastguard Agency contract – while they awaited the FIPS (Full Ice Protection System) certification – one of the SAR fleet was re-configured for offshore work. To reduce confusion, Bristow even changed the registration from G-MCGN to G-CJNV and removed the Coast Guard titles etc. This aircraft will now be converted back to SAR and take up its previous registration once again.

Bristow originally ordered 11 Sikorsky S92s and 11 AgustaWestland AW189s for the UK SAR contract. While the AW189 FIPS approval was pending, additional S92s and AW139s were brought in.  The AW189 is now being rolled out to the SAR bases, and four are active with two at each of Lee-on-Solent and Prestwick.  The timing of the remaining seven coming on stream is not known at this time. Meanwhile, the four leased AW139s remain in use at Lydd and St Athan, but will be replaced as more AW189s come on stream in the coming months.

Additional cover was also provided by four new Sikorsky S92s, and these are to be reallocated, with two going to each of the Stornoway and Sumburgh SAR bases. The four S92s already operating in those locations are of a less comprehensive spec – the old “Gap SAR” spec based on the previous CHC operation before Bristow took over. There was presumably no point in Bristow re-configuring these aircraft to the “Full SAR” spec when they had four available in exactly the required configuration, so the older four will be released for other work or onward lease or sale – each with around 2,300 airframe hours

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