The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has signed a £1.6 billion contract with UK company Bristow Helicopters Ltd to deliver rotary and fixed wing services for the next ten years. The new contract will see the UK search and rescue region benefit from both innovation and advances in technology to save more lives, even more quickly. It will combine the existing two separate aviation contracts for both fixed wing aircraft and rotary aircraft. It will also include the use of uncrewed aircraft (drones). This will provide better value for money for the taxpayer and allow for more innovation throughout the life of the contract.
Continuity of operation
The contract award follows an 18-month procurement process. As part of the new contract, Bristow Helicopters Ltd will continue to operate from their current ten helicopter bases and launch two new seasonal bases in Fort William and Carlisle, to serve areas around two of the busiest locations for summer tourism.
HM Coastguard added drones to its aviation fleet in March 2022 and they are currently deployed supporting search and rescue activity in the English Channel. Bristow Helicopters Ltd will continue to build upon this to enhance situational awareness for emergency responders.
The transition out from the current contracts will start 30 September 2024 and run through to 31 December 2026, to ensure a continuation of search and rescue aviation services across the whole of the UK.