A new £1.6 billion contract for search and rescue helicopter services will see the UK benefit from improved flying times and better coverage of high-risk areas.
The Department for Transport has today signed a contract with Bristow Helicopters Ltd to provide search and rescue helicopter services in the UK. Helicopters will be able to reach a larger area of the UK search and rescue region within one hour of take off than is currently possible, and based on historic incident data it is estimated that there will be an overall improvement in flying times to incidents of around 20% (from 23 to 19 minutes). Presently, approximately 70% of high and very high risk areas within the UK search and rescue region are reachable by helicopter within 30 minutes. Under the new contract, approximately 85% of the same area would be reached within this timeframe.
Today’s announcement represents a major investment by the government in providing a search and rescue helicopter service using the most up to date helicopters and meeting the highest professional standards.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: Our search and rescue helicopter service plays a crucial role, saving lives and providing assistance to people in distress on both land and on sea.. With 24 years of experience providing search and rescue helicopter services in the UK, the public can have great confidence in Bristow and their ability to deliver a first class service with state-of-the-art helicopters.
Under the new contract, 22 state of the art helicopters will operate from 10 locations around the UK.
- Ten Sikorsky S92s will be based, 2 per site, at Stornoway and Sumburgh, and at new bases at Newquay, Caernarfon and Humberside airports
- Ten AgustaWestland AW189s will operate, 2 per site, from Lee on Solent and a new hangar at Prestwick airport, and new bases which will be established at St Athan, Inverness and Manston airports
All bases will be operational 24 hours a day.
Editor note. We have run the press release verbatim. We do not understand how they add 10 S92s and 10 AW189s to make 22 helicopters….
The UK Dept of Transport also issued this statement from The Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP (the Secretary of State for Transport) – officially a “written statement to Parliament”
On 28 November 2011 the Department for Transport started a competition to procure search and rescue helicopter services to replace the joint capability provided by the Royal Air Force (RAF), Royal Navy (RN), and Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). The procurement process has now finished, and I wish to inform the House of the results.
I am pleased to announce that a £1.6 billion contract has been signed today to provide a search and rescue helicopter service for the whole of the UK with Bristow Helicopters Ltd. I would like to recognise the very high quality and the maturity of the bids provided by the two companies who reached the final stages in this vital competition for an emergency service in the UK. In buying such an important service that protects the safety of individuals in our maritime industries and in dangerous conditions on land and around our coastline it is vital that we had a robust competition with credible and thoroughly developed propositions from industry. I am confident that we did. I am equally confident that the contract we are entering into with Bristow Helicopters Ltd represents the best solution for the UK over the next 10 years.
This contract represents a major investment by the government in providing a search and rescue helicopter service using the most up to date helicopters and meeting the highest professional standards. Operations will commence progressively from 2015 and the service will be fully operational across the United Kingdom by summer 2017.
The contract will enable the RAF and RN to withdraw from search and rescue activities in the UK and retire their fleet of Sea King SAR helicopters. It will also ensure service continuity when the current contracted MCAservice expires. Services under the new contract will operate from 7 to 10 years and will be managed by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
Experience of front line operations has informed the military decision that the skills required for personnel recovery on the battlefield and in the maritime environment can be sustained without the need for military personnel being engaged in UK search and rescue. I want to pay tribute to the outstanding service personnel who have displayed such enduring commitment and bravery in RAF and RN search and rescue squadrons. The service they have provided for over 70 years has been exemplary and the country owes them all an enormous debt of gratitude. The decision to cease military involvement in search and rescue in the UK was not made lightly. But with the Sea King nearing its 40th year of service, the time has come to change the way the service is provided and the aircraft used.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (and its predecessor bodies) has 30 years experience of operating contracted search and rescue helicopter services using civilian aircrew. The existing MCA search and rescue contracts have delivered services of the very highest standards, and highly skilled civilian crews have won numerous awards for their bravery and dedication.
Bristow Helicopters Ltd is a UK company which has 36 years experience of providing search and rescue services in the UK, including 24 years with theMCA. The company has received numerous awards for SAR missions its civilian crews have undertaken, including Chief Coastguard’s Commendations, Coastguard Rescue Shields, the Prince Phillip Helicopter Award and the Queen’s Commendation for a mission in which 60 seamen were rescued.
Bristow Helicopters Ltd has completed more than 44,000 search and rescue operational hours in the UK and conducted over 15,000 missions, during which more than 7,000 people have been rescued by their crews.
The new service will operate a mixed fleet of 22 state of the art helicopters from 10 locations around the UK. Sikorsky S92 helicopters will continue to be based at the existing MCA bases at Stornoway and Sumburgh, and at new bases at Newquay, Caernarfon and Humberside airports. AgustaWestland AW189 helicopters will operate from Lee on Solent, Prestwick airport, and new bases at St Athan, Inverness and Manston airports. All bases will be operational 24 hours a day. These base locations are strategically placed near areas with high SAR incident rates and will help ensure maximum operational coverage across the UK while reducing transit times to incidents.
This combination of aircraft and base locations will provide a world class search and rescue capability. Helicopters will be able to reach a larger area of the UK search and rescue region within 1 hour of take off than is currently possible, and based on historic incident patterns we estimate that there will be an overall 20% improvement in flying times, with the average flight time reducing from 23 minutes to 19. Presently, approximately 70 % of high and very high risk areas are reachable within 30 minutes. Under the new contract, approximately 85% of the same areas are reachable within this timeframe.
The new contract will see the creation of over 350 new jobs. The AW-189 will be assembled at AgustaWestland’s factory in Yeovil and Sikorsky plans to locate a supply hub in the Aberdeen region that will support not only the UK SAR program but also Sikorsky’s large fleet of helicopters in the region serving the important offshore oil sector. The contract will have a significant impact on the UK supply chain, providing and sustaining jobs and apprenticeships.
The safety of professional mariners, aviators, all those travelling by sea or air, and all of those enjoying our seas, coasts and mountains for business or leisure is of paramount importance. This new contract, which will match or exceed our existing search and rescue capability, will ensure that this country’s search and rescue helicopter service will be the standard bearer, both in Europe and beyond.
and for completeness, here is Bristow’s press release:-
Bristow Group Inc. (NYSE: BRS), the leading provider of helicopter services to the offshore energy industry, announced today that The Department for Transport in the United Kingdom has awarded its UK affiliate Bristow Helicopters Limited (Bristow Helicopters) a new contract to provide civilian Search and Rescue (SAR) services for all of the UK. The SAR services contract has a phased-in transition period beginning in April 2015 and continuing to July 2017 and a contract length of approximately ten years.
Under the terms of this contract, Bristow Helicopters will provide 11 Sikorsky S-92 and 11 AgustaWestland AW189 helicopters that will be located at ten bases across the UK. Each SAR base will operate either two S-92s or two AW189s. In addition to the ten bases with 20 aircraft, there will be two fully SAR-equipped training aircraft that can be deployed to any base as needed.
William E. Chiles, President and Chief Executive Officer, said, “We are honored that our affiliate Bristow Helicopters was selected by The Department for Transport to provide this vital service for the people of the United Kingdom. This award will employ 22 of the world’s most technologically advanced and safest helicopters which will dramatically improve the capability to save lives and significantly reduce the UK Government’s costs for the next decade. It is planned that some of the military personnel currently involved in SAR in the UK will join Bristow Helicopters to work under this contract, and we look forward to welcoming them into the Bristow family.”
In early 2012, Bristow Helicopters was awarded a Gap SAR services contract that commences in July 2013, utilizing four, latest technology S-92 helicopters based in Scotland at Stornoway and Sumburgh. The Gap SAR contract is expected to run for about four years until transition occurs for these two bases to the new longer-term contract announced today.
Mike Imlach, Bristow Helicopters Managing Director, said, “Bristow Helicopters has a proven reputation for exceptional UK search and rescue services, having performed such services over 36 years with world-class operations that included unmatched flight safety performance, extensive aircrew training, first class maintenance facilities, supply-chain partners, and project procurement and contract management. Affiliates of Bristow Group Inc. currently operate similar search and rescue services in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Cyprus, Dutch Antilles, the Netherlands, Norway,Russia, and Trinidad.”
Under the terms of this new SAR contract, Bristow Helicopters currently anticipates earning approximately $2.5 billion in revenue. Jonathan Baliff, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, added, “We believe that these contract terms and conditions are transformative from an operational and financial standpoint for our company. The number of helicopters operated, combined with the revenue and earnings generated under this contract, will create both a larger and lower risk company going forward.”
“The total capital requirement for this project is expected to be approximately $1 billion, much of which is dedicated to the acquisition of 22 of the most technologically advanced, SAR-equipped S-92 and AW189 helicopters ever built. We believe that the financing plan based on our company’s capital strength was an important criterion for the selection of Bristow Helicopters to provide this life saving service which requires a high level of safety and on-time reliability, and at higher service levels and lower cost than previously anticipated by the UK government. We are confident that Bristow Helicopters will provide excellent rescue services to the people of the United Kingdom.”
Statements contained in this news release that state Bristow’s or management’s intentions, expectations or predictions of the future – including its ability to complete and fund the above-referenced SAR services, the timing for beginning the SAR services, expected revenue generation and whether the SAR services will be beneficial to Bristow’s operations are forward-looking statements. Actual results could differ materially from those projected in such forward-looking statement as result of unanticipated circumstances including but not limited to termination of the contract by the Department or higher costs. Additional information concerning factors that could cause actual results to differ materially is contained from time to time in Bristow’s SEC filings, including but not limited to Bristow’s annual report on Form 10-K and quarterly reports on Form 10-Q. Bristow Group Inc. disclaims any intention or obligation to revise any forward-looking statements, including financial estimates, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.
ABOUT BRISTOW GROUP INC. Bristow Group Inc. (NYSE: BRS) 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 Alaska, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Russia and Trinidad. For more information, visit the Company’s website at www.bristowgroup.com.
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