Search and Rescue

Imagery courtesy of HM Coastguard

Bristow Helicopters has pioneered the provision of world-class search and rescue (SAR) services around the world, for 50 years.

At sea and on land, Bristow has come to the aid of those in need of assistance. Beginning in the UK in 1971, the company has supported members of the public and private sector companies, on all continents, regardless of geography, and in all weathers.

Bristow Group is a leader in global vertical flight solutions offering helicopter offshore oil & gas transportation and search and rescue (SAR) services, to civil and government organizations worldwide.

Since 1971, Bristow has provided Search and Rescue services to Governments and the Oil & Gas industry. To date, Bristow has conducted more than 85,000 flight hours supporting over 31,000 SAR missions, during which more than 19,000 people have been rescued or assisted by our crews worldwide.

Bristow’s Commercial SAR footprint includes: 

  • Guyana
  • Norway
  • Trinidad
  • Suriname
  • United States
  • Canada through our partnership with Cougar Helicopters 

Today, Bristow operates the HM Coastguard helicopter search and rescue service for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) of the UK Government.

Bristow’s teams of specialists around the world work together to provide the most operationally effective all-weather helicopter SAR service to our clients, greatly improving the chances of survival for those in the greatest need.

Our challenge is to ensure that everything we do meets the very highest standards of safety and speed of response, no-matter the mission or environment into which we are deployed.

Bristow offers a fleet of SAR aircraft to include AW139, AW189 and S-92, which are equipped with the latest technological capabilities including SAR Automatic Flight Control Systems (AFCS), Advanced Search Radar, Night Vision Imaging Systems, Forward Looking Infra Red (FLIR), multi-frequency homing, and wireless crew intercommunication systems. Some of our aircraft are equipped with systems to allow us to fly in icing conditions.

We do that by investing in our people; our aircraft; innovation; and in achieving continuous improvement and operational excellence. We pursue each of these aspects with the guidance of our shared values, which are the foundation of Bristow Search and Rescue’s approach.

Search and Rescue Heritage

HM Coastguard

Our founder, Alan Bristow, pioneered the deployment of aircraft from the private sector to save lives half a century ago.

Awarded the United Kingdom’s first civilian search and rescue contract in 1971, Bristow provided HM Coastguard’s service for three years, before it returned to the public sector through the Royal Air Force.

As the North Sea oil and gas industry grew exponentially, Bristow was contracted from 1974 to 1989, to provide search and rescue support to Shell and BP’s operations in the basin, offering reassurance to workers in one of the world’s harshest industrial environments.

In 1983, Bristow established the UK’s first civilian SAR bases at Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis, Sumburgh in Shetland, and at Lee-on-Solent and Portland on the south coast of England, again on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. This contract operated until 2007.

Internationally, Bristow has delivered private sector search and rescue services to the oil and gas industry in the Faroe Islands, the Netherlands, and the Solomon Islands, in addition to its extensive work in the Gulf of Mexico.