Scilly’s Emergency Staff Get First Look At New Helicopter

new search and rescue helicopter nov 2015The new search and rescue helicopters are impressive and boast state-of-the-art facilities. That’s what around twenty of the islands’ emergency personnel heard on Saturday, as they inspected one of the two new aircraft that will cover Scilly from the New Year.

Ambulance staff, Coastguards and first responders from all the islands gathered on The Garrison to look around the new Sikorsky S-92A and meet the crew.

Private contractor Bristow takes over from RNAS Culdrose on 1st January and will operate the new helicopters from Newquay Airport.

There’s been concern over the privatisation of the service and closure of some of the rescue bases.

But on Saturday, 999 workers learned that the aircraft are faster than the current fleet and, if needed, back up from the next nearest base at St Athans near Barry can be in Scilly in around one hour.

The helicopter that came over on Saturday has only been flown for around six hours and made it over from the mainland at a top speed of 135 knots.

Captain Jorg Brunner says the leap in technology from the old Sea King aircraft is “like going from Windows 95 to Windows 10.”

The new S-92s are bigger inside and are loaded with the latest kit including heat-seeking equipment.

Saturday’s flyover was arranged so that locals who will work with the new contractor understand how the operation will work and can be ready “from the first job.”

Captain Brunner has been flying in search and rescue for 18 years and says he knows Scilly because he has worked for 771 Squadron for two-and-a-half years previously.

He’ll be on duty at midnight on New Year’s Eve when the new contract starts and says he’s prepared for every medical or emergency situation, including the first new babies of 2016.