AAR announced on 19 January that its Airlift division had been awarded a contract by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) to provide search and rescue (SAR) and support helicopter services in the Falkland Islands. The contract was valued at approximately £180 million (approximately $275 million).
AAR Airlift, together with sub-contractors British International Helicopters (BIH) and Air Rescue Systems (ARS), will provide a combined SAR and support helicopter service to the British Forces South Atlantic Islands operations. BIH will provide the flight operations service under its UK Air Operations Certificate, while ARS will provide the medical protocols for the SAR missions
AAR won out against competitors Avincis (now known as Babcock), Bristow Helicopters, CHC Scotia and FB Heliservices, which were shortlisted for the contract alongside AAR in April 2014.
The programme will include AW189 SAR helicopters, S-61 support helicopters, flight operations, maintenance, logistics and facilities support at the Mount Pleasant Complex in the Falkland Islands and surrounding maritime region.
AAR explained in a statement: “The mission includes all-weather SAR, helicopter emergency medical services, rescue hoist operations, passenger and cargo transfers, and night vision imaging systems. Readiness states vary from 15 minutes to 60 minutes response and require a 24/7/365 alert posture. Performance on the 10-year contract will begin in April 2016.”
Randy J. Martinez, president and CEO of AAR Airlift Group, said: “This award presents a tremendous opportunity for AAR Airlift's business as part of our strategy to diversify our capabilities and customer base. We are thrilled that our exemplary record of safety, reliability and operational performance has earned us the confidence of the UK Ministry of Defence to deliver this critical service.”
Ian Craddock, Head of Helicopters 2 in the MoD’s Defence Equipment and Support department, said: “I have every confidence that AAR Airlift has the capability and experience to provide a search and rescue service that maintains the high standards set by the Royal Air Force, who we must thank for the service they have delivered to date. We will work closely with AAR through the period of transition, with the RAF continuing to provide search and rescue cover until the new service starts. I am also pleased that AAR will be sub-contracting British International Helicopters, who is already successfully providing support helicopter services in the Falkland Islands, to support delivery of the combined service.”
AAR Airlift provides services including passenger and cargo transport, aeromedical services, night vision operations, search and rescue (SAR), airdrop and other special mission services.