Sikorsky, June 16, 2009 - Paris, France - A Search and Rescue (SAR) S-92® helicopter operating in the United Kingdom has reached the operational milestone of 1,000 flight hours as the SAR services provided by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and under the operation of CHC Helicopter Corp. continue to operate at availability levels of 98 percent. The S-92 helicopter is manufactured by Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. Sikorsky is a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp.
CHC Search and Rescue operates four SAR S-92 helicopters from two bases covering territory in the North Atlantic and the North Sea. In Stornoway, Western Isles, Scotland, the fleet has conducted 244 rescue missions, while missions flown out of Sumburgh, Shetland Isles, Scotland, have totaled 150 to date. Aircraft technical availability at both bases has been 98 percent, said Ian McLuskie, UK SAR Manager, CHC Search and Rescue.
"We began introducing the new-technology aircraft to the service under a new contract nearly two years ago and our S-92 helicopters in Stornoway were the first to go live," McLuskie said. "This 1,000-hour milestone really highlights the extent to which the service is called into action and consistently proves its value in often challenging circumstances. It is also a great credit to our technicians who keep the aircraft operational 24 hours a day."
Sikorsky initially developed the S-92 helicopter for over-water search and rescue in demanding and challenging environments such as the North Sea and North Atlantic, where the MCA is in service.
The subject S-92 helicopter, call-sign G-SARB, reached and surpassed the 1,000-hour milestone in May 2009. The aircraft is one of two deployed at the Stornoway base for the MCA. McLuskie said that G-SARB and G-CGMU, (the second Stornoway aircraft), completed 172 SAR missions in 2008 - the base's busiest year since operations began there in 1987.
In the first full year of SAR services at the two bases, the SAR S-92 helicopters completed 172 and 109 missions at Stornoway and Sumburgh, respectively. The MCA contract began in 2007.
"The search and rescue activities taking place in the U.K. are a testament to the reliability and performance of the S-92 helicopter," said Marc Poland, President, Sikorsky Global Helicopters. "Sikorsky is proud to see the CHC-operated MCA missions continue to add to that legacy."
Last year, during the early months of SAR S-92 helicopter service in the U.K., a crew rescued 14 fishermen from the vessel Spinningdale, which had run aground at St. Kilda. The rescue was conducted amid gusting 70-knot winds as the vessel sat stranded on rocky, cliff-facing terrain. The helicopter crew later was recognized with the Great Scot of the Year Award for its bravery and professionalism, and the winchman Phil Warrington has recently received the Billy Deacon SAR Memorial Trophy from His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh for his outstanding bravery on this mission.
The S-92 aircraft is the first helicopter in the world certified to the latest U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and European airworthiness safety standards. The S-92 helicopter features a Rotor Ice Protection System (RIPS), which allows the aircraft to operate in known icing conditions. RIPS has been certified by both North American and European aviation authorities and is available on S-92 helicopter military variants as well as commercial aircraft. EASA certification was issued in April for an IAFS equipped aircraft, which is currently in commercial operation.
Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., based in Stratford, Conn., USA, is a world leader in helicopter design, manufacture and service. United Technologies Corp., based in Hartford, Conn., USA, provides a broad range of high technology products and support services to the aerospace and building systems industries.