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AirKnight Picks EC225 for British SAR-H Bid

AirKnight, the teaming of Lockheed Martin UK, VT Group and British International Helicopters, is advancing its solution for the UK’s Search and Rescue Helicopter (SAR-H) programme through selection of one of the world’s most advanced and versatile helicopters, the Eurocopter EC225.

SAR-H is a joint Ministry of Defence (MoD) and Maritime Coastguard Agency (MCA) Private Finance Initiative project for the provision of a harmonised SAR helicopter service around the UK, and the Falkland Islands. Starting in 2012, SAR-H will see a new fleet of dedicated rescue helicopters that will provide a harmonised service for the UK for up to 30 years.

“The new SAR-H service must continue the legacy and outstanding reputation the current service has established. AirKnight will offer a low risk, responsive SAR service that the UK public can depend on 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” said Tom Gordon, AirKnight bid director. “Lockheed Martin and VT is a proven partnership with the right combination of skills and experience to deliver a comprehensive SAR service and the financial stability to deliver this PFI programme.”

Lockheed Martin and VT are recognised as leading providers of critical services to Government customers ranging from emergency services to air traffic control, and have a proven track record of successfully managing risk and delivering high availability on capability -based contracts in demanding environments. Through the Ascent joint venture, Lockheed Martin and VT are working together to deliver the UK’s Military Flying Training System programme. British International Helicopters has extensive helicopter experience in the challenging Falkland Islands environment.

“To complement our robust service offering, AirKnight has selected the EC225 helicopter, which is performing SAR operations today in some of the harshest maritime environments with unmatched mission and cost effectiveness,” adds Tom Gordon. “It has an outstanding safety and service record, was initially designed for the demands of search and rescue missions, and is extremely reliable.”

The EC225 is the latest member in the long-serving Super Puma family of helicopters which have flown in excess of 4,000,000+ operational hours. Well suited for SAR, the EC225 can carry 12 or more casualties, fly for more than 500 miles unrefuelled and has a door each side to ease casualty recovery. Coupled with a unique 4-axis automatic flight control system specifically designed for helicopters and SAR, the EC225 has been selected for SAR and Coastguard applications in countries including Japan, China, South Korea and Norway.

“AirKnight’s heritage, coupled with the EC225’s performance, is an incredibly strong base for SAR-H,” said Tom Gordon. “The strength of this team will guarantee the successful delivery over the full life of the programme.”

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) and Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) together provide a 24-hour military and civil helicopter Search and Rescue (SAR) service for the UK SAR Region from 12 bases around the UK. Currently this SAR helicopter service is provided by Royal Air Force and Royal Navy Sea Kings and a civilian helicopter service under contract to the MCA.

SAR-H is a MoD and MCA PFI project to replace this capability with a single contract that will still retain a proportion of military aircrew alongside civilian aircrew trained to the same high standards.

From 2012, SAR-H will see a new harmonised helicopter service operated under the joint management of the MOD and MCA being progressively introduced across the 12 UK bases.

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AirKnight Advances SAR-H Solution by Selecting Eurocopter's EC225