Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation, a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE: UTX), has completed production of an S-92(r) helicopter for operation by CHC Helicopter on behalf of the Irish Coast Guard. Equipped for dedicated search and rescue (SAR) operations, the helicopter will provide coverage for deep Atlantic Ocean missions, service Ireland's offshore islands, and provide rescue cover from Cork to Galway on the country's west coast. Based at Shannon, the new aircraft will replace the current Coast Guard SAR helicopter, a Sikorsky S-61(tm) helicopter, which has given 20 years of unbroken service.
Sikorsky and CHC formalized the purchase today in the presence of Chris Reynolds, Irish Coast Guard Director, during a hand-over ceremony at Sikorsky's S-92 commercial helicopter assembly facility in Coatesville, Pa.
Mr. Reynolds said that the delivery of the new helicopter to service some of the roughest and treacherous ocean waters in the world represents a stepped improvement in Ireland's ability to care for and service its seagoing, coastal and island communities.
"We selected CHC and the Sikorsky S-92 as our preferred combination after an intense tender and selection process, and I am very happy that the Coast Guard will operate what I consider to be the leading SAR helicopter in the world," added Mr. Reynolds.
As a dedicated search and rescue platform, the S-92 aircraft is equipped with advanced systems and hardware, including an automated flight control system that enables the pilot to fly pre-programmed search patterns and perform delicate hover maneuvers; a wireless intercom allowing a rescue swimmer to communicate with the crew; radio transceivers to communicate with ships, police and other emergency rescue services; a weather radar; a forward looking infrared sensor; and a digital video system to record rescues. The aircraft also comes with a dual rescue hoist, single or dual 220-gallon internal auxiliary fuel tanks, three litters, and a Spectrolab rescue searchlight.
Specified by the Irish Coast Guard, the S-92 helicopter is the first to be purchased by CHC for SAR operations in Ireland. CHC will utilize four additional S-92 SAR aircraft which will become operational out of Sligo, Waterford and Dublin airports over time.
CHC currently provides 24/7 search and rescue helicopter service for the Irish Coast Guard using six S-61 SAR helicopters based at Dublin, Shannon, Waterford and Sligo.
CHC Regional Director Nick Mair said this was a very proud day for CHC in Ireland, adding that the dedicated team of professional men and women on the Irish Coast Guard helicopter service has worked hard to bring this key milestone in the delivery program to pass.
The aircraft accepted today is the 33rd S-92 helicopter CHC has purchased from Sikorsky Aircraft since 2004, and the fifth dedicated SAR aircraft. CHC also operates four S-92 SAR aircraft in Scotland under contract to Britain's Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
"We are honored by the combined confidence the Irish Coast Guard and CHC have in the S-92 helicopter as the platform of choice to save lives," said Ed Beyer, Vice President for Sikorsky Global Helicopters. "We remain committed to building the world's most reliable and capable search and rescue helicopter."
Sikorsky has delivered 151 S-92 aircraft to operators worldwide since 2004. Of those aircraft, 25 are engaged in SAR operations. The 151-aircraft fleet has accumulated a total of 370,000 flight hours. Aircraft availability stands at 95 percent.
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