Bloodied but Unbowed

 - September 13, 2006, 11:35 AM

With the appointment of a new manager to lead its bid for a joint civil/military UK Search and Rescue service, Bristow Helicopters is giving notice of its desire to win the contract back from Canadian nemesis CHC. Bristow director Allan Blake is confident that the loss of the work last year was “just a hiccup” for the helicopter services company.

Bristow provided SAR services to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency for 22 years, but in a surprise move last summer lost to CHC the $86 million deal to provide an enhanced service for an interim five-year period. At the time it faced criticism for sticking with the old Sikorsky S-61N, albeit with improved performance, while CHC promised to introduce the new-generation S-92 and A139. The Canadian company will take over next summer, and CHC project manager Steve Duffy says that “over 90 percent” of the Bristow crewmembers will also make the switch.

In July Bristow registered its interest in competing for the 2012 contract, and it will enter a pre-qualification phase this month. Blake told AIN, “New aircraft will be part of our package.” The UK agency is expected to make a final decision by 2010.