Kent search and rescue operation to start with HM Coastguard at Lydd airport

A new Kent search and rescue base leaps into action today and Neilcott are delighted to have been part of the delivery team for this new facility.  The Coastguard helicopter base will start taking call-outs from 1pm (14 August 2015) at Lydd airport.  Bristow Helicopters Limited will operate on behalf of HM Coastguard after being awarded a 10-year UK SAR contract by the Department of Transport in March 2013.  The AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters in red and white HM Coastguard livery have already become a familiar site – with training started some weeks ago.  Chief Pilot Captain Neil Robertson is a former Sea King pilot whose 17 year career in the RAF saw him serve as Flight Commander at RAF Wattisham’s SAR unit.  He has since flown offshore helping with oil and gas operations in the North Sea. Captain Robertson said: “Everyone at the base feels privileged to be involved in delivering such an important, lifesaving service and we are looking forward to  getting started.  “Close working relationships with the other emergency services in the area and the military are key to ensuring a smooth transition to the civilian service and we’re grateful for all the support we’ve received from them.” Samantha Willenbacher, Director of UK search and rescue at Bristow Helicopters, said: “It is an honour to have been chosen to deliver this vital service across the UK.  “I would like to thank all those who have supported us in our preparations for the service going live here at Lydd including London Ashford Airport, other local emergencies services personnel, the local community, and in particular our colleagues at RAF Wattisham who have taken the time to share their local knowledge and expertise with us.”   Charles Buchanan, chief executive of London Ashford Airport at Lydd in Kent said the establishment of Bristow’s new search and rescue helicopter base this summer has given the fast-expanding airport a real boost.  “This investment by Bristow is warmly welcomed and coincides with rising passenger numbers, an increase in aircraft traffic, more jobs created and substantial investment in facilities, including a multi-million pound runway extension and a new £700,000 hangar.  “There is a growing demand at Lydd driven by business and general aviation. “In 2014 we handled 10% more passengers and 15% more aircraft movements than the previous year, and these trends are continuing.”Bristow-SAR-AW139