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New Coastguard choppers create a stir

The new state of the art Sikorsky S-92 search and rescue helicopters are highly thought of by the flight crews - Photo: Malcolm Younger/Millgaet Media.

THREE state of the art Coastguard helicopters arrived in Shetland on Saturday in preparation for Bristow Helicopters to take over the search and rescue contract from Canadian firm CHC.

Crews have completed a three month training slot with the new helicopters at Inverness airport before flying north to Sumburgh.

Having won the UK gap search and rescue contract, Bristow is due to commence operations at Sumburgh on 1 June, and at Stornoway a month later.

The brand new Sikorsky S-92 helicopters have been fitted out with the latest night vision equipment and other features to help coastguard officers carry out their emergency work in the tough northern conditions.

These include the latest night vision goggles, forward looking infrared and thermal imaging equipment and high illumination lighting to make it easier to work in the dark.

Long range fuel tanks will help the aircraft to fly the extra distance to reach a vessel in difficulty.

Captains, pilots, air crew and engineers who arrived at Sumburgh airport to oversee the transition period - Photo: Malcolm Younger/Millgaet Media.

Bristow’s Mike Imlach said: “With training complete we are fully prepared to begin operations of the gap search and rescue service in northern Scotland, and we look forward to operations commencing on 1 June from Sumburgh.”

Sumburgh Airport manager Nigel Flaws added that everybody at the airport was proud to be part of the UK’s search and rescue network.

“We wish them well as they prepare to embark on a new phase of operations from Sumburgh. Their work is of vital importance to communities across the northern isles,” he said.

Top guns (left to right) Capt Mark Coupland, Capt Gary Queen and Capt Glen Oldbury who flew the new Sikorsky S-92 helicopters into Sumburgh airport on Saturday afternoon - Photo: Malcolm Younger/Millgaet Media.