St Athan Facility
H.M. Coastguard

History

St Athan was one of the new bases established under the ten-year UK SAR contract awarded to Bristow Helicopters in March 2013. Due to issues with the full certification of the AgustaWestland AW189 search and rescue helicopter, two AgustWestland AW139s were used instead for the first year of operations. The first helicopter arrived in August 2015. The facility was officially opened on 15 October 2015, but had already become operational on 4 October 2015. The service is available 24 hours a day.

Subordinate Units

None

Aircraft

Type Qty Service Example Serials
AgustaWestland AW139 2 Aug 2015  
AgustaWestland AW189 2 ? 2016  


Unit Markings

 

 


Main Bases

Base Duration
St Athan Airfield, South Glamorgan Aug 2015 – Present


Photographs

None at present.

More Information

References

Other Sources

To be added.

Inverness Facility
H.M. Coastguard

History

Inverness was one of the new bases established under the ten-year UK SAR contract awarded to Bristow Helicopters in March 2013. Due to issues with the full certification of the AgustaWestland AW189 search and rescue helicopter, two Sikorsky S-92 were used instead for the first year of operations. The first helicopter arrived in January 2015. The facility was officially opened on 17 March 2015, and became operational on 1 April 2015. The service is available 24 hours a day.

Subordinate Units

None

Aircraft

Type Qty Service Example Serials
Sikorsky S-92 2 Jan 2015  
AgustaWestland AW189 2 ? 2016  


Unit Markings

 

 


Main Bases

Base Duration
Inverness Airport, Highland Jan 2015 – Present


Photographs

None at present.

More Information

References

Other Sources

To be added.

Lydd Facility
H.M. Coastguard

History

Lydd was one of the new bases established under the ten-year UK SAR contract awarded to Bristow Helicopters in March 2013. Originally Manston Airport had been selected as the South East SAR base, but the closure of that facility in May 2014 lead to a temporary change of venue. The change in base location was made permanent on 13 April 2016. Due to issues with the full certification of the AgustaWestland AW189 search and rescue helicopter, two AgustWestland AW139s were used instead for the first year of operations. The first helicopter arrived in June 2015. There was no official opening of the facility due to its temporary nature, but the formal decision on a permanent base has allowed construction of a new hangar to begin. The helicopters became operational on 14 August 2015. The service is available 24 hours a day.

Subordinate Units

None

Aircraft

Type Qty Service Example Serials
AgustaWestland AW139 2 Jun 2015  
AgustaWestland AW189 2 ? 2016  


Unit Markings

 

 


Main Bases

Base Duration
Lydd Airport, Kent Jun 2015 – Present


Photographs

None at present.

More Information

References

Other Sources

To be added.

Prestwick Facility
H.M. Coastguard

History

Preswick was one of the new bases established under the ten-year UK SAR contract awarded to Bristow Helicopters in March 2013. Due to issues with the full certification of the AgustaWestland AW189 search and rescue helicopter, two Sikorsky S-92s were used instead for the first year of operations. The first helicopter arrived in November 2015. The facility was officially opened on 17 December 2015, and became operational on 1 January 2016. The service is available 24 hours a day.

Subordinate Units

None

Aircraft

Type Qty Service Example Serials
Sikorsky S-92 2 Nov 2015  
AgustaWestland AW189 2 ? 2016  


Unit Markings

 

 


Main Bases

Base Duration
Prestwick Airport, South Ayrshire Nov 2015 – Present


Photographs

None at present.

More Information

References

Other Sources

To be added.

Portland Facility
H.M. Coastguard

History

A Coastguard helicopter was operating from RNAS Portland, Dorset, was contracted by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency from Bristow Helicopters Ltd to replace the Royal Navy helicopter, when that service was withdrawn in 1995. Since then, the helicopter and crew have been on call 365 days a year from 9am to 9pm. The Portland unit became the second busiest Search and Rescue helicopter base in the UK.

The Portland Coastguard Helicopter’s normal operating area was from Hengistbury Head in Hampshire to Start Point in Devon, a coastline of 100 miles in length. This extended to mid-point of the English Channel, incorporating an area of 4000 square miles. The helicopter was operational on a daily basis for 12 hours from 0900 hours to 2100 hours. For incidents which take place at night or in bad weather conditions search capability was enhanced by the use of the FLIR Dual Sensor Surveillance System.

The old Portland Naval Air Station is now owned by the South West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA) and is being developed commercially. In 2003 an agreement was reached with the SWRDA to secure the future of the helicopter base at Portland.

The S-61Ns were operated by Bristow Helicopters Ltd under a contract that expired on 30 June 2007. They were replaced by new AW139 machines supplied by CHC Helicopters.

Under the UK SAR contract awarded in 2013, Bristow Helicopters took over operation of the service from CHC in 2015. The AW139s were replaced by newer Bristow-owned examples. Due to the rationalisation of base locations defined in the 2013 contract, Portland will close as an SAR base in mid 2017.

Subordinate Units

None

Aircraft

Type Qty Service Example Serials
Sikorsky S-61N Mk II 1 30 Sept 1995 – 30 June 2007 G-BBHL
Sikorsky S-61N Mk II 1 ? – 15 July 2002 G-BBHM, w/o in engine fire
Sikorsky S-61N Mk II 1 1 Oct 1995 – June 2008 G-BPWB
Sikorsky S-61N Mk II 1 1 July 2007 – June 2008 G-CGMU
AgustaWestland AW139 2 Apr 2008 – 2017 G-CGWB


Unit Markings

 

 


Main Bases

Base Duration
RNAS Portland, Dorset 1977 – 2017


Photographs

S-61N G-BPWB at RNAS Portland. (photo, Steve Coombes)


More Information

References

  • Helis.com: Portland District

    Other Sources

    To be added.

  • Sumburgh Facility
    H.M. Coastguard

    History

    An S-61N operated by Bristow Helicopters Ltd first took up service at Sumburgh, in the Shetland Islands, in November 1983. (The contract actually started on 1 December 1983). The identity of this helicopter is currently not known. This example was replaced by G-BDOC ‘Oscar Charlie’, which became operational on 4th April 1985 after arriving at the station on the previous day. The Sumburgh Coastguard Helicopter’s normal operating area stretched in an arc for 150 miles from the Sumburgh Coastguard station. However if the helicopter refuelled at one of a various number of places, the most commonly used one being the BP Magnus Oil platform, north of Sumburgh, it could travel further. The helicopter was also well equipped for night sorties with it’s FLIR capability.

    Oscar Charlie was involved in every major incident in the North Sea. These incidents include: Piper Alpha, the helicopter incidents on the Brent Spar and Cormorant Alpha, the Braer, the strandings of the Klondykers Lunokhods 1, Borodinskoye Poyle and Pionersk and more recently the Cargo Vessel the Green Lily. BHL’s contract was renewed for a further 5 years on 1 June 1999, and again renewed on 31 May 2004, but lost the next contract. Under what became known as the UK Gap SAR Contract, CHC Helicopters took over on 30 June 2007, with the S-61Ns being replaced by much more modern Sikorsky S-92s.

    In 2012, Bristow Helicopters was awarded the UK Gap SAR contract for Northern Scotland. Under this contract Bristow supplied two new Sikorsky S-92s to Sumburgh, with operations commencing on 1 June 2013. In 2017 the service will be merged with the the nationwide UK SAR contract awarded to Bristow Helicopters in 2013.

    Subordinate Units

    None

    Aircraft

    Type Qty Service Example Serials
    Sikorsky S-61N Mk II 1 Nov 1983 – Apr 1985 G-????
    Sikorsky S-61N Mk II 1 3 Apr 1985 – 30 June 2007 G-BDOC
    Sikorsky S-92 1 1 Jan 2008 – May 2013 G-CGOC
    Sikorsky S-92 1 1 Jan 2008 – May 2013 G-SARC
    Sikorsky S-92 2 1 Jun 2013 – Present  


    Unit Markings

     

     


    Main Bases

    Base Duration
    Sumburgh Airport, Shetland Islands Nov 1983 – Present


    Photographs

    S-61N G-BDOC. (photo, via Chris Jones)


    More Information

    References

    Other Sources

    To be added.

    Counter Pollution Unit
    H.M. Coastguard

    History

    On 4 May 1982 Southend-based crop-spraying and charter operator Harvestair (also known as Harvest Air) was awarded an oil pollution control and spraying contract for the Department of Trade. As a result, the Marine Control Unit was formed and for this purpose, several BN-2A Islanders were obtained, specially converted for this role and based at Exeter, Prestwick and Kinloss. Two Douglas Dakotas were also acquired and adapted as heavy spray tankers. Following the untimely death of the company’s founder and MD, Nigel Brendish, in a light aircraft accident during September 1987 the company went into liquidation and the DoT contract was transferred to Air Atlantique in the following month.

    Air Atlantique initially used three BN-2A Islanders and a couple of Dakotas for the pollution control task, but as more Dakotas were acquired, the Islanders were assigned to other duties.

    On 20 July 2000 a new 10-year pollution control contract was placed with Air Atlantique, for both air surveillance and spraying reponse aircraft. The contract required the provision of a new Cessna 406 surveillance aircraft equipped with SLAR, 2 Lockheed L-188 Electra spraying aircraft able to respond within 4 hours of a pollution report, and a Cessna 406 to be based at Inverness modified for spraying work.

    Compared to the Dakotas, the bigger and faster Electras were able to deliver more chemicals to the required location sooner. The spray attachment for the Electras was specially designed by Air Atlantique and can fitted or removed relatively quickly – allowing the aircraft to fly normal revenue-earning cargo charter contracts when not required for pollution control. Air Atlantique (Atlantic Aviation Ltd) is now known as Reconnaissance Ventures Ltd (RVL).

    Subordinate Units

    None

    Aircraft

    Type Qty Service Example Serials
    BN-2A Islander 5 mid 1982 – Oct 1987 G-BJWM, BJWN, BJWP (Harvestair)
    Douglas DC-3 Dakota 2 1982 – Oct 1987 G-AMPZ, AMYJ (Harvestair)
    BN-2A Islander 3 Oct 1987 – 1990 G-AXZK, BCEN, BNXA (Air Atlantique)
    Douglas DC-3 Dakota 7 Oct 1987 – 2000 G-AMPO (Air Atlantique)
    Lockheed L-188 Electra 2 2000 – Present G-LOFE (Atlantic Air Transport)
    Cessna F406 Caravan II 1 2000 – Present G-LEAF? (Atlantic Air Transport)


    Unit Markings

     

     


    Main Bases

    Base Duration
    Southend Airport, Essex mid 1982 – Oct 1987
    Coventry Airport, Warks. Oct 1987 – Present


    Photographs

    None at present.

    More Information

    References

    • Aviation News September 2003

    Other Sources

    To be added.

    Pollution Control South
    H.M. Coastguard

    History

    One aircraft based at Coventry Airport. The Cessna 402 was replaced by a Cessna F406 fitted with a much more comprehensive sensor suite in 1996. Operated by Air Atlantique (Atlantic Aviation Ltd) – now called Reconnaissance Ventures Ltd (RVL).

    Subordinate Units

    None

    Aircraft

    Type Qty Service Example Serials
    Cessna 402 Utiliner 1 1988 – 1995   G-MPCU
    Cessna F406 Caravan II 1 1996 – Present   G-TURF


    Unit Markings

     

     


    Main Bases

    Base Duration
    Coventry Airport 1988 – Present


    Photographs

    None at present.

    More Information

    References

    • To be added.

    Other Sources

    To be added.

    Pollution Control North
    H.M. Coastguard

    History

    One aircraft based at Inverness Airport. Interim aircraft G-TASK was replaced circa 2002 by the comprehensively equipped G-EXEX. Operated by Air Atlantique (Atlantic Aviation Ltd) – now called Reconnaissance Ventures Ltd (RVL).

    Subordinate Units

    None

    Aircraft

    Type Qty Service Example Serials
    Cessna 404 Titan II 1 2000 – 2002? G-TASK
    Cessna 404 Titan II 1 2002? – Present G-EXEX


    Unit Markings

     

     


    Main Bases

    Base Duration
    Inverness Airport 2000 – Present


    Photographs

    None at present.

    More Information

    References

    • To be added.

    Other Sources

    To be added.

    Stornoway Facility
    H.M. Coastguard

    History

    The Stornoway based Coastguard Helicopter became operational on 12th May 1987. Although the Stornaway Coastguard Helicopter’s normal operating area was the West of Scotland and Northern Ireland it was also deployed for incidents in the Orkneys, the Shetlands Isles, and the Clyde. From early 1988 the helicopter provided the main the main air ambulance service for the Western Isles.

    The SAR helicopter contract started on 12 May 1987 using S-61N G-BBVA. This was an interim solution until G-BDII arrived in September. India India was a more capable helicopter, fitted with a FLIR turret and a long-range fuel tank. Unfortunately, it was forced to ditch in the sea on 17 October 1988 and so G-BIMU (Mike Uniform) took over as the assigned helicopter. G-BIMU was replaced by a new S-92 helicopter (supplied by CHC Helicopters) in mid 2007. Short-term maintenance cover was provided by S-61Ns G-BBVA and G-BBHL. By September 2001, G-BBHL was operating as a regular back-up rescue helicopter (from 1:30 pm each day) whenever G-BIMU was away from base on another mission. Thus G-BIMU provided 24-hour all-weather SAR, supplemented by G-BBHL for 12-hrs each day.

    In April 1997 the contract with Bristow Helicopters Ltd was renewed for the third time, and extended for a further five years on 1 July 2002 (expiring 30 June 2007). The 2000th SAR mission was flown on 5 July 2002. Under what became known as the UK Gap SAR Contract, CHC Helicopters took over the service on 30 June 2007, with the S-61Ns being replaced by much more modern Sikorsky S-92s.

    In 2012, Bristow Helicopters was awarded the UK Gap SAR contract for Northern Scotland. Under this contract Bristow supplied two new Sikorsky S-92s to Stornoway, with operations commencing on 1 July 2013. In 2017 the service will be merged with the the nationwide UK SAR contract awarded to Bristow Helicopters in 2013.

    Subordinate Units

    None

    Aircraft

    Type Qty Service Example Serials
    Sikorsky S-61N Mk II 1 12 May 1987 – Sept 1987 G-BBVA
    Sikorsky S-61N Mk II 1 24 Sept 1987 – 17 Oct 1988 G-BDII, w/o after ditching
    Sikorsky S-61N Mk II 1 Oct 1988 – 30 June 2007 G-BIMU “Stac Pollaidh”
    Sikorsky S-61N Mk II 1 19?? – 30 June 2007 G-BBHL (reserve)
    Sikorsky S-92 1 1 July 2007 – Jun 2013 G-CGMU
    Sikorsky S-92 1 1 Oct 2007 – Jun 2013 G-SARB
    Sikorsky S-92 2 1 Jul 2013 – Present  


    Unit Markings

     

     


    Main Bases

    Base Duration
    Stornoway Airport, Outer Hebrides May 1987 – Present


    Photographs

    S-61N G-BIMU at Stornoway Airport. (photo, Chris Jones)


    More Information

    References

    Other Sources

    To be added.