Bristow Helicopters has completed a one year contract in the Falkland Islands with three Sikorsky S92s. While the contract allowed for extensions beyond the first year, the continued depressed oil price has meant that these were not exercised – as predicted by HeliHub.com. The company’s announcement of the contract win early in 2015 described it as “A one-year contract for three large helicopters starting in February 2015 with a two-year option to support drilling operations. One aircraft will be used for crew change work, the second one will be dedicated to SAR operations while the third helicopter will have dual use”.
On Thursday 28th April, the three S92s G-CIGZ, G-CIHP and G-IACG were loaded on the roll-on-roll-off ship Hurst Point at Mare Harbour, close to RAF Mount Pleasant – the military base which doubles as the Islands only international airport and base for helicopter operations. Mare Harbour is a deepwater port used by Royal Navy ships patrolling the Southern Atlantic. The ship is reportedly bound for Ascension Island off West Africa, and it is feasible that the helicopters could be airfreighted from there back to the UK.
The remaining operational helicopters in the Falkland Islands now are two Sikorky S61s and two AgustaWestland AW189s operated by British International Helicopters on behalf of AAR, who hold the contract with the British Ministry of Defence. The AW189s provide SAR cover to replace two now-retired Sea Kings, while the S61s are more for transportation duties, both of people and freight.
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com
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