QinetiQ has bought a new Airbus H145 for the LTPA (Long Term Partnering Agreement) Range Helicopter Service that covers the UK Ministry of Defence BUTEC (British Underwater Test & Evaluation Centre) and Hebrides sites in North West Scotland. The LTPA is a 25-year contract between the UK Ministry of Defence and QinetiQ to deliver Test & Evaluation (T&E) and Training Support Services to the UK Armed Forces. In March 2019 an amendment to the contract was signed securing the provision of Test & Evaluation until 31 March 2028.
The helicopter service provides a transport and supply line for critical MOD programmes including the Continuous At Sea Deterrent and the ferrying of key range operators to their remote locations on the Applecross peninsula, Rona island and St. Kilda. The introduction of a new aircraft for the service will extend service capabilities significantly and is expected to deliver notable operational efficiencies. This is a change of approach for the company, which previously hired in aircraft from charter operators.
QinetiQ’s Air Test and Evaluation Capability team has been working with Airbus Helicopters UK to undertake interim aircraft acceptance and complete a number of modifications and enhanced safety features. Final preparations and testing are now underway to ensure the new aircraft meets all projected LTPA requirements prior to entry into service in late 2020. Range specialists at MOD BUTEC and Hebrides have been working with the project teams to complete the testing and acceptance programme and deliver a seamless entry into service of the new H145.
“In view of the critical nature of the Range Helicopter Service, everyone has pulled out all of the stops to complete the acquisition of the new helicopter within a very challenging time frame, despite the restrictions posed by the #COVID19 lock down,” says QinetiQ’s Project Manager, Donald Lundie. “This is a significant programme in many respects as the capability gains and service enhancements provided by the new helicopter will be matched with significant cost savings and operational efficiencies. Such outcomes are fully aligned with our key objectives to modernise and develop capabilities while also ensuring value for money for the British taxpayer.”
QinetiQ has entered into a contract with Castle Air to operate and maintain the helicopter, including the provision of another aircraft to cover maintenance down-time. Flying is expected to cover 400 hours a year across 800 sorties. The helicopter will be based at the existing QinetiQ-run MOD BUTEC base at Kyle of Lockhalsh. Castle Air already works with QinetiQ in maintaining two Leonardo AW109s and four Airbus H125s which are based at Boscombe Down and flown for the Empire Test Pilot School.
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com
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