Her Majesty’s Coastguard Trials New Search Aircraft
Bristow Helicopters Limited, which operates the UK search and rescue (SAR) helicopter service on behalf of Her Majesty’s Coastguard, has been trialling a Jetstream 41 turboprop aircraft for the Coastguard as part of a development to support the SAR helicopters.
The new plane, which first took to the skies in red and white HM Coastguard colors in September 2016, has been patrolling the UK’s southern and eastern seaboard.
The aim of the trial is to assess whether a fixed-wing aircraft will provide valuable complementary support for the SAR helicopters. The new capability could help save lives at sea by identifying people, boats or ships in distress.
The Coastguard Jetstream is provided by Eastern Airways on behalf of Bristow Helicopters and has a dedicated crew. The aircraft is being controlled through the Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC), just like the SAR helicopters, and will be tasked where there is a risk to life and in support of the helicopters.
If the trial is successful, options for permanent provision will be explored, possibly in combination with similar requirements elsewhere in the UK government.