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Bristow Group Inc has announced that Bristow Leasing Limited, a U.K. subsidiary, has entered into a new loan facility for 100 million euro to support its Irish Coast Guard contract commitments.

As Vertical magazine reports, the export development guarantee term-loan facility has been negotiated by Bristow Leasing Ltd for an aggregate amount of up to €100 million with National Westminster Bank Plc (NatWest) and also UK Export Finance guaranteeing 80 per cent of the facility (the UKEF Debt).

“The proceeds from the financing will be used to support Bristow’s capital commitments related to the next generation of search-and-rescue (SAR) operations in Ireland,”it says.

UK Export Finance is Britain’s export credit agency and provides the export development guarantee product to “support the working capital and capital expenditure needs of U.K. exporters that meet certain criteria”, it says.

“The proceeds from the UKEF Debt will enhance our financial flexibility as Bristow grows its leading government services business with the new Irish Coast Guard contract investments,” Chris Bradshaw, Bristow’s president and chief executive officer, said in a press statement.

“We would like to thank NatWest and UK Export Finance for their confidence in Bristow and for helping facilitate our continued success,”he said.

Members of Bristow Ireland conducted “technical acceptance” of the AW189 helicopter they will be flying at the aircraft manufacturer, Leonardo, in Milan, Italy, last weekend, according to the company.

The aircraft will have a new livery, as Afloat has previously reported, and this was photographed while one of the helicopters was airborne for the technical test flight.

Bristow has been flying the AW189 for the past ten years, and says that in Ireland a fleet of six such aircraft will “work exclusively for the Irish Coast Guard alongside fixed-wing aircraft and other emergency services”.

Last year, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan awarded the new ten-year contract valued at 670 million euro excluding VAT to Bristow Ireland.

The new contract which is due to be fully operational by 2025 includes providing for two King Air fixed wing aircraft at Shannon, for five years- allowing for the possibility that the Air Corps, Ireland’s air defence wing, may then assume responsibility for the fixed wing element.

Current contract holder CHC Ireland issued legal proceedings last year over “a number of flaws” in relation to the tender competition, and these proceedings are still in train, along with new proceedings filed earlier this year.

Read Vertical magazine here

Published in Coastguard
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Philip Bartlett has been appointed Bristow Ireland’s director of Irish search and rescue (SAR) helicopter and fixed-wing aviation.

“Bartlett will be responsible for leading the Bristow Ireland team responsible for delivering life-saving missions across the country,” the company says.

Bristow Ireland is due to take over provision of rotary and fixed-wing aviation services for the Irish Coast Guard, and received its air operator certificate from the Irish Aviation Authority earlier this year.

As part of the contract with the Department of Transport, the company will run six SAR-configured AW189 helicopters from dedicated bases in Shannon, Sligo, Waterford, and Weston.

The new contract will include a day and night fixed-wing service operating out of Shannon.

Bartlett has 33 years of experience in Irish and British aviation, and was most recently chief technical officer for Shannon Technical Services.

Before that, Bartlett was a technical operations manager for Nordic Aviation Capital, where Bristow Ireland says he “gained a perspective on the regional aircraft leasing business, including managing aircraft deliveries and returns, to and from various international airlines”.

He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering (Hons) in aircraft engineering, aerodynamics, business, and quality from Kingston University.

He is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society; an incorporated engineer with the British Engineering Council; and holds an EASA Part 66 and national aircraft maintenance engineer’s license from the Irish Aviation Authority.

Published in Coastguard

Helicopter operator CHC Ireland has been ordered to cover most of Bristow Ireland’s legal costs after it sought a suspension of the Government contract awarded to the latter company.

As The Irish Independent reports, last May the Department of Transport announced that Bristow’s Irish subsidiary was the preferred bidder for the new €800 million Irish Coast Guard search and rescue (SAR) tender.

The contract was signed in August, providing for Bristow to introduce a fleet of six SAR-configured Leonardo AW189 helicopters at four Irish Coast Guard bases from 2025.

Bristow will also provide two specialised King Air fixed-wing aircraft.

The 10-year contract has options to extend an additional three years, and also makes provision for the Air Corps to provide the fixed-wing element of the service after five years.

After CHC, the current contract holder, filed a legal challenge, the procedure was suspended.

The contract procedure was lifted in July after a High Court application by Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan in July, and this ruling was upheld by the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal ruling stated public interest reasons, including considerable difficulties which could be experienced by Bristow in securing slots to manufacture AW189s at short notice if there was a suspension.

Part of CHC’s challenge is a claim that the Sikorsky S-92A helicopters used by it in Ireland are larger, have more cabin space and have a longer range than the Leonardo aircraft.

The Sikorsky helicopter can carry 19 passengers and has an 848km range, while the Leonardo can carry 16 and has an 802km range.

In a High Court ruling on October 24th, Mr Justice Michael Twomey awarded Bristow most of its costs against CHC in objecting to the suspension of the contract award. CHC’s own legal case continues.

US group Bristow recently told investors that it will spend about $142m (€135m) on five new helicopters for the Irish contract.

Read The Irish Independent here

Published in Coastguard
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Search and rescue air crew and staff at the Irish Coast Guard’s four helicopter bases are concerned about their future employment when Bristow takes over the new contract.

As The Sunday Independent reports, staff in Dublin, Waterford, Shannon and Sligo are seeking assurances from the Department of Transport that employment will be transferred when the Bristow group takes over in 2025.

Last week, Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan confirmed that Bristow Ireland Ltd is the preferred bidder for the next ten-year search and rescue (SAR) contract, costing 670 million euro ex VAT.

Over 140 people have been employed by CHC Ireland at the four bases over the past 20 years of the current contract, which cost 60 million euro annually.

Bristow Ireland Ltd is a subsidiary of the Bristow group which runs search and rescue services for Britain, the Netherlands and the Falkland Islands.

For the first time, provision of a fixed wing aircraft is also included in the Irish contract, which provides for the Air Corps to take over this element of the service after five years, according to Ryan.

Senator Gerard Craughwell, who has welcomed the awarding of the contract to Bristow, has called on the company to make a statement that it will “start considering a transfer of employment”.

Forsa, which represents air crew, said it would prefer not to comment at this stage, while trade union Unite regional officer Rob Kelly said it was “confident that the TUPE process will proceed smoothly, and Unite members look forward to continuing to provide this vital service".

CHC Ireland lost four of its air crew when the Dublin-based Sikorsky S-92 crashed at Blackrock island in north Mayo on March 14th, 2017, claiming the lives of Capt Dara Fitzpatrick, Capt Mark Duffy, and winch crew Ciarán Smith and Paul Ormsby.

The Department of Transport said that “it is expected that as part of their staffing strategy, the new contractor will undertake a consultation and engagement process with the employees of the current contractor, and the recognised trade unions”.

“As the procurement process has now entered the required legal “standstill period”, the department is not in a position to comment further,” a spokesperson said.

Bristow Ireland said “looks forward to integrating our significant global experience and capabilities into this critical public service” and would work with the department.

Read more in The Sunday Independent here

Published in Coastguard
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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland and internationally for many years, with his work appearing in leading sailing publications on both sides of the Atlantic. He has been a regular sailing columnist for four decades with national newspapers in Dublin, and has had several sailing books published in Ireland, the UK, and the US. An active sailor, he has owned a number of boats ranging from a Mirror dinghy to a Contessa 35 cruiser-racer, and has been directly involved in building and campaigning two offshore racers. His cruising experience ranges from Iceland to Spain as well as the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, and he has raced three times in both the Fastnet and Round Ireland Races, in addition to sailing on two round Ireland records. A member for ten years of the Council of the Irish Yachting Association (now the Irish Sailing Association), he has been writing for, and at times editing, Ireland's national sailing magazine since its earliest version more than forty years ago