13-Jun-2022 Source: HeliHub.com
After beating NHV to win the Dutch SAR contract, the bigger picture of what Bristow will bring to the table are now clearer. The requirement is for two helicopters and a maintenance spare, and Bristow won by offering Leonardo AW189s which they have good experience with on the UK SAR contract.
Helicopter market intelligence firm Parapex Media confirmed to HeliHub.com that one new AW189 is being built at the Leonardo plant in Italy and they are already tracking a particular MSN for this aircraft on the production line. Bristow added “We can confirm that a new AW189 has been purchased from Leonardo for our Netherlands SAR contract. We are working with Leonardo on a delivery date but expect it will be later this year. The remaining two aircraft will be sourced from our existing AW189 fleet and will be modified to meet the contractual requirements.”
The second aircraft is a an older example freed up from offshore work when Bristow lost the Apache contract. This AW189 has been ferried from Aberdeen to Lee-on-Solent, where it is now on conversion from offshore to SAR spec.
The third example is a UK Maritime & Coastguard Agency AW189 which has been repainted in Dutch SAR colours – as seen here in these images from the Netherlands Coastguard. On Saturday 3rd June, this aircraft flew from Aberdeen to Den Helder for a photo call at one of the two bases Bristow will fulfil the contract from. It then flew back to Lee-on-Solent, from where Dutch crews will receive training for the next five months prior to the contract start date.
A Maritime and Coastguard Agency spokesman said: “A Leonardo AW189 aircraft has been removed from the Coastguard helicopter fleet by the operator Bristow helicopters with the agreement of the MCA. This aircraft was dedicated to training a high volume of crew during the transition of search and rescue services from the military to the MCA and are consequently no longer required.”