The service is currently operated by Bristow Helicopters Ltd on behalf of Her Majesty’s Coastguard. Bristow has been given the extension which will run until 31 December 2026, covering off the period that the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) needs to procure its new SAR contract.
Planning a new replacement service
MCA – the SAR service of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency – will continue to have its helicopter service delivered in the same way.
In the meantime, the MCA will work towards a framework for procuring a new replacement service known as UKSAR2G (UK Search and Rescue Second Generation) which will include helicopters as well as other innovative technology.
Taking account of the future needs in SAR
Claire Hughes, Director of HM Coastguard, said: “This is a really exciting time for us as we work to create the template for the future of search and rescue. Ultimately our role is about working to save lives, so it’s important while we look to the future that we make sure our present capability continues to meet the needs alongside our coastguard rescue teams and independent lifeboats and hovercraft.”
Damien Oliver, Commercial and Programmes Director, added: “It’s very important that we take account of all the future needs of SAR and how new technology can service those needs. This contract extension for Bristow Helicopters Ltd will give the MCA, working in partnership with the aerospace industry, the opportunity to develop innovative and more tailored solutions for the future.”
The Coastguard is also evaluating the use of remotely piloted aircraft that could drive the next generation of SAR.