Bristow to run coastguard search and rescue helicopters until 2017
Bristow Helicopters is to take over the coastguard search and rescue helicopter service at Sumburgh from next year.
It will replace CHC Helicopters until 2017 when the government hopes to have a new UK-wide system of civilian-operated search and rescue bases.
Bristow will use Sikorsky S-92 helicopters, the same as those currently in use at Sumburgh.
Shipping minister Mike Penning announced on Wednesday that the company had signed a contract with the government to provide search and rescue services from Sumburgh and Stornoway until June 2017.
Bristow director Mike Imlach said “As we take over the service, Bristow will work closely with the current operator to ensure that staff eligible for transfer achieve a smooth and seamless transition during this organisational change.”
Isles MP Alistair Carmichael said: “I know that the lack of clarity over the future of helicopter search and rescue services had been a cause of significant concern for many people in the isles. After the cancellation of plans for a replacement service last year I contacted officials and stressed the importance of helicopters remaining on station while negotiations over a long-term alternative to the current services continued.
“The contract announced today will ensure that services remain in operation in Shetland until a new contractor is ready and able to assume responsibility for the MCA capability in 2017.”