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Saturday, March 1, 2008

Heli-Expo Show Day: CHC’s SAR S-92 Logs "Severe" Rescue

Joe West

CHC SCOTIA HAS ACHIEVED A breakthrough with a major rescue off the northwest coast of Scotland during the worst storm of 2008 so far.

The company has been operating a Sikorsky Aircraft S-92 for the U.K. Maritime and Coast Guard Agency from Stornoway, an island base northwest of Scotland, since October.

During the early hours of Feb. 1, the crew was sent to the aid of 14 Spanish fishermen aboard a 169-ton trawler that had been virtually lifted ashore by huge waves during a Force 10 gale. The ship came ashore on St. Kilda, the remotest part of the British Isles.

Capt. Liz Forsyth, copilot Michael Melaye, Winchman Phil Warrington and winch operator Richard Taylor brought all 14 crewmembers aboard in an operation carried out adjacent to steep cliffs with winds gusting to 70 kt. The crew had to deal with strong turbulence and a sea state described as severe.

This rescue was the S-92’s first stern test since CHC took over the SAR contract from Bristow Helicopters’ old and well-proven Sikorsky S-61s.

Forsyth, a former Royal Air Force search and rescue pilot, said it was one of the most hazardous operations she’d ever flown. She was most pleased with the S-92’s performance and how the FADEC had controlled the engine requirements. With the RAF, she flew Sea Kings and Bell 412s and finished her service time as a SAR instructor.

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