Irish Coast Guard Sikorsky S-92 Handover
Photo Report
    Irish Coast Guard Sikorsky S-92 Handover

    Irish Coast Guard Sikorsky S-92 Handover

    Photographer: Frank Grealish
    Date: 30th January 2012
    Location: Shannon (SNN / EINN), Ireland

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    On 22nd July 2010 CHC Ireland was awarded a 10 year contract by the then Minister for Transport, Noel Dempsey, to provide Search and Rescue (SAR) services on behalf of the Irish Coast Guard.

    The contract, worth €500 mission, will see CHC Ireland continue to provide 24 hour SAR services from Waterford, Dublin, Shannon and Sligo airports from 2012 onwards.

    CHC already provide SAR cover around the coast of Ireland from these bases using elderly Sikorsky S-61N helicopters. This contract provides for CHC to replace the S-61 with the newer Sikorsky S-92A configured for SAR work.

    The S-92 took a step closer to going live as an SAR asset in Ireland with the delivery to the CHC base at Shannon Airport of a brand new airframe, appropriately registered EI-ICG.

    The first S-92 delivered to CHC Ireland is a brand new machine direct from the factory, while the remaining four helicopters will be taken from the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency SAR fleet, also operated by CHC, and they will be upgraded to the same standard as EI-ICG prior to entering service.

    The new S-92 was delivered to the UK by ship from the USA where it was re-assembled dockside and flown to Shannon from Lee-on-Solent on the night of Sunday 29th January 2012.

    The delivery flight demonstrated the improved capabilities of the S-92 over the S-61 it is replacing as it flew through icing conditions, something the S-61 is not capable of doing. The heated rotor blades prevented ice from forming on the blades, rotor blade heating, known as Rotor Ice Protection System (RIPS), is a facility the S-61 lacks.

    The S-92 was presented to the press the following day when a small handover ceremony took place, with both Mark Kelly - Managing Director, CHC Ireland, and Chris Reynolds - Director, Irish Coast Guard, saying that the new helicopter marked a step change in capabilities, and that the delivery of the new helicopter was a "once a generation" event. Michelle McCombie - Project Manager, CHC Ireland, marked the handover of the S-92 by presenting a model of the S-92 to Chris Reynolds - Director, Irish Coast Guard.

    Now that the first S-92 has been delivered to Shannon an intensive 5 month training program will commence as it is due to go live as an SAR asset from the 1st July 2012.

    The S-92 can be fitted with 2 auxiliary fuel tanks in the cabin, and given the fact that the helicopter base at Shannon has carried out some very long range rescues current plans call for the Shannon based helicopter to keep one auxiliary tank permanently fitted while the second tank can be fitted in less than 30 minutes.

    The S-92 can fly faster (max speed: 150 knots versus 130 knots), and further (operational radius: 300 nautical mile versus 180 nautical miles) than the S-61 it replaces and it has a comprehensive equipment fit out in preparation for it's demanding SAR role.

    The S-92 is fitted with advanced avionics including an automated flight control system that enables the aircraft to fly pre-programmed search patterns and a flight tracking system that allows the aircraft to record the path it has flown while searching, weather radar, advanced infra-red and low light level cameras, Nitesun searchlight and dual high speed winches. The all glass cockpit is Night Vision Goggle (NVG) compatible but there are no plans as of yet to use the NVG capability.