Posted: Wed 11th Jan 2017

Helicopter search & rescue operations suspended in North Wales after fleet is grounded.

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Wednesday, Jan 11th, 2017


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The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency confirmed its helicopter search and rescue operations were suspended on Tuesday after an alert from manufacturer Sikorsky.

A global alert went out to all Sikorsky S92 aircraft operators following an investigation into an S92 helicopter which spun on the helideck of the West Franklin platform.

All S92 aircraft need to undergo an 11 hour of mandatory examination of the tail rotor and bearing assemblies and a specific check of Health and Usage Monitoring System (HUMS) data before being allowed to fly again.

Inspection work was carried out all day Tuesday across HM Coastguard’s search and rescue helicopter bases after the global fleet alert which stopped the distinctive red and white S92s choppers seen in the skies over north Wales from flying.

As well as supporting maritime search and rescue operations north Wales based helicopters are often used to ferry injured walkers from remote parts of the region.

The life-saving provision of the helicopters meant Bristow Helicopters Ltd worked closely with Sikorsky to fast track the bases back into service.

While Helicopters at Sumburgh, Stornoway, Humberside, Newquay, and Prestwick and Inverness are all now back in service, the north Wales, Caernarfon based helicopters won’t be back in service until Wednesday

Damien Oliver, Assistant Director with responsibility for aviation at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said:

This was a highly unusual situation but we were prepared and we pulled out every stop when we were told about it at 0800 this morning.

We had provision for crews to fly other aircraft if needed and – of course – we have a huge number of resources available in this country for search and rescue operations in addition to our helicopters – Coastguard Rescue Teams, the RNLI, Mountain Rescue to name but three.

Over the coming months, we will be mixing our fleet of aircraft so that we will always have a contingency option in the event of a fleet grounding.

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