Bristow Helicopters return to Stornoway

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Bristow Helicopters’ officially took control of the Search and Rescue (SAR) helicopter service from Stornoway Airport on Monday.

The handover marks a return to delivering SAR helicopter services in the north of Scotland for Bristow who ran the service from 1983 until 2007 when CHC took over.

The company will operate two rescue helicopters and there will also be training opportunities at the base with a further helicopter used for that purpose.

A planning application has also been submitted to Comhairle nan Eilean Siar for possible changes to the base at the airport.

A spokesperson for Bristow Helicopters said: “It is Bristow’s intention to use the existing facilities at Stornoway Airport for its Gap Search and Rescue operations, including use of the Gaydon hangar. 

“We are still evaluating our options for the development of the site.”

Bristow’s specialised crews have been carrying out mission training across northern Scotland for the past four months from both Inverness Airport and Sumburgh Airport.

Bristow is to deliver the contract on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) with two Sikorsky S92 Helicopters based in Stornoway and a further two in Sumburgh equipped with state-of-the-art SAR technology.

Since the company took over the service from CHC in Sumburgh on 1st June 2013 the crews have completed more than ten successful Search and Rescue missions.

Mike Imlach, managing director of Bristow Helicopters, said: “We’re extremely proud to be conducting Search and Rescue operations from Stornoway once again.

“The team has settled into Sumburgh and the transition to Bristow from the previous service provider has gone smoothly.

“We look forward to doing the same here in Stornoway in the coming weeks.

“We hope our presence in the Western Isles will bring considerable value to the community, both in terms of the service we will provide and investment in the local community.”

Duncan Smith, Stornoway Airport Manager, said: “Stornoway Airport has a long and proud association with the UK Search and Rescue operation and we are delighted to welcome the Bristow team to the Western Isles. We wish them well as they prepare to embark on a new phase of operations from Stornoway.

“Their work is of vital importance to communities across the north and north west of Scotland. 

“Their investment in new helicopter equipment will ensure the Stornoway base is well equipped for the challenges of serving such a large and diverse region.”

Bristow Helicopters was recently awarded the UK SAR contract which will commence in Stornoway in 2016 and run until 2026.

Bristow Helicopters Limited also operates rescue services in Norway, the Netherlands, and Trinidad.

Recently the company advertised for candidates for their Search and Rescue Apprenticeship scheme starting in September for individuals at all their bases across the UK including Stornoway.