Late on 10 January, HM Coastguard reported that inspections had been carried out all day across its UK search and rescue helicopter bases after the global fleet of Sikorsky 92s were stopped from flying.
All S-92 helicopters across the world have had to undergo a mandatory inspection with repairs where necessary.
The life-saving mission of the helicopters meant operator Bristow Helicopters worked closely with Sikorsky to fast track the bases back into service. Helicopters at Sumburgh, Stornoway and Inverness were put back into service the same day. At the time of the statement, the Coastguard expected helicopters at Caernarfon, Humberside, Newquay, and Prestwick to shortly return to service. The helicopters based at St Athan, Lydd, Lee-on-Solent and Portland are a different model, so those services have been unaffected by the issue.
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 08:00 hrs 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 [Royal National Lifeboat Institute], Mountain Rescue to name but three.” He added: “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.”