New Bristows Helicopter contract means a base at Fort William from April – September 12 hrs a day.

The following is from the Scottish Mountain Rescue Facebook page:

“Scottish Mountain Rescue (SMR) welcomes the announcement by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency that the contract for the UK Second-Generation Search and Rescue Aviation programme – known as UKSAR2G – has been awarded to Bristow Group.

Scottish Mountain Rescue, on behalf of the teams it represents, looks forward to continued joint working with Bristow Helicopters Ltd, who are the existing provider of rotary search and rescue aircraft in Scotland.

Also welcome is the announcement that seasonal search and rescue (SAR) helicopter bases will be opened in Carlisle and Fort William. This additional capability will increase the operational capacity of the search and rescue service provided by the MCA in the North West and South of Scotland and will relieve some of the pressures on the existing Prestwick base, which is the UK’s busiest in terms of SAR helicopter operations.

Damon Powell, SMR Chair said “Scottish Mountain Rescue are delighted that the significant engagement we have had with both MCA and Bristow Helicopters Ltd over the lifecycle of the existing SAR-H contract has led to these very positive enhancements in this new second generation contract. These positive changes to SAR aviation capability will be a significant benefit to those undertaking outdoor activities in Scotland.”

I am sure that will be a great addition to SAR in Scotland and to all the folk in the area.

Comments welcome. Jim Fraser “Fort William is part of the poorest-served area on the 2013 Bristow surge map and that is one of the shortcomings of the current SAR network (based on the 2011 10-base solution) that I have been highlighting for years. Much fuss is being made of the part-time Fort William facility but actually, across Scotland, the biggest change is the part-time Carlisle facility which takes huge workload pressure off Rescue 199 with a subsequent step up in availability across a large swathe of southern Scotland.A facility equating to about half of normal Bristow SAR base is expected to be built at Carr’s Corner. This is currently still nearly four years away. Night cover will still be principally from Inverness.How far this goes towards solving the question of HLS for other public safety helicopters at Fort William remains to be seen!Don’t annoy Bristow ops staff about any of this yet because they have yet to get the full brief from the bid team and senior management. It is an important part of a fair bid process that these functions have separation within the incumbent contractors organisation.”

Photo credit Assynt MRT

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer when body slows, loves the wild places.
This entry was posted in Mountain rescue, mountain safety, Mountaineering, Well being. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to New Bristows Helicopter contract means a base at Fort William from April – September 12 hrs a day.

  1. Jim Higgins says:

    Does this now lead to the eventual privatisation of rescue services?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jim Fraser says:

      Each death costs the state about £2M (Crown Office, HSE and MCA figure) and there are about 1000 genuinely lifesaving sorties each year. The average cost of a rescue sortie is about £78000. One year of lifesaving pays for the entire 10 year contract. This is a self-financing state service operated by a private contractor to immensely high standards. Please take your irrelevant question somewhere else.

      Like

  2. Jim Fraser says:

    Fort William is part of the poorest-served area on the 2013 Bristow surge map and that is one of the shortcomings of the current SAR network (based on the 2011 10-base solution) that I have been highlighting for years. Much fuss is being made of the part-time Fort William facility but actually, across Scotland, the biggest change is the part-time Carlisle facility which takes huge workload pressure off Rescue 199 with a subsequent step up in availability across a large swathe of southern Scotland.
    A facility equating to about half of normal Bristow SAR base is expected to be built at Carr’s Corner. This is currently still nearly four years away. Night cover will still be principally from Inverness.
    How far this goes towards solving the question of HLS for other public safety helicopters at Fort William remains to be seen!
    Don’t annoy Bristow ops staff about any of this yet because they have yet to get the full brief from the bid team and senior management. It is an important part of a fair bid process that these functions have separation within the incumbent contractors organisation.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jim Fraser says:

    Although the current 2015 to 2026 contract seemed like a ground-breaking step forward, UKSAR2G is actually the first time that this has been done thoroughly based on a proper data set.

    At the start of this bid process, John Foster, who the MR community had known previously as the ARCC Commander, provided an air rescue data set and a software solution accessible to bidders that allowed them to run models to simulate their aircraft and base solutions.

    This contrasts with 2011-13 when bases were “in the vicinity of” the results from November 2011’s “10 Base Solution” which, although allowing some flexibility around the 10 locations, was quite a fixed solution. It made improvisations based upon an aggregate life saving capability across the UK SRR. Like all of the solutions of 2011; GAPSAR and that Main contract; these were rushed solutions that were forced upon the department and their contractors by the collapse of the 25 year PFI earlier in the year. All credit to the DfT, MCA, BHL and CHC for making all that work well in super quick time.

    That is not where we are now. Witness, back to 12 bases including a part-time element, three different aircraft types, bases with different numbers of aircraft. Why? There are people dying over there and they are dying in a certain way and THAT is the solution. But over here there are people dying in a different way, at different times, and in different groups and THIS is the solution. That is a different and more refined approach compared to 2011. It places resources where they will be most effective.

    Somehow, in amongst all this chaos and pandemic losses and political bitching, we have fine-tuned an already able service that comes to your aid if you are in danger in our territory even in the most extraordinary circumstances and moves you to a place of safety. Exceptional.

    Like

  4. Jim higgins says:

    No I am entitled to ask what I want.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jim Higgins says:

    The reason I asked this question is because any time that MRT personnel are asked they are supportive of the service being run by volunteers and being “free at the point of need”, so to speak. I have always been supportive of MRT on this and especially during covid when many took this for granted. I have been on mountains in some capacity since 1974. We were all inexperienced at some point and had to start somewhere. Some like me from a place of lack of money and resources. It is a reassuring thought that MRT are there. If it were to become “privatised” then this may make them exclusive and beyond the reach of those with the ability to pay. The thought comes to mind that many who are rescued or need the service are not mountaineers and therefore may not be covered if that was what was required. I feel that my question was not irrelevant and am always wary and attentive of governments who would undermine the way the service is run. Complicated issue but simple as well. I am always wary, yes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s been ongoing for years with many with no clue.

      We just have to keep up hoping it stays the same.

      We need to support the Teams especially those with little cash!
      All comments are welcome mate.

      Like

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