HM Coastguard now has a new eye in the sky, as a Jetstream 41 turboprop aircraft is being trialled as part of a development to support search and rescue (SAR) helicopters.
The new plane is painted in red and white HM Coastguard colours and from this month, September 2016, will be patrolling the southern and eastern seaboard.
The costs involved in operating this aircraft are said to be less than the costs of operating one of the coastguard’s search and rescue helicopters.
The trial will last for two months initially, with a possibility of extending for a further two months.
A coastguard spokesman said: ‘The aim of the trial is to assess whether a fixed-wing aircraft will provide valuable additional support for our SAR helicopters.
‘The new capability will help save lives at sea by identifying people, boats or ships in distress.’
The Coastguard Jetstream is provided by Eastern Airways on behalf of Bristow Helicopters and has a dedicated crew.
The aircraft will be controlled through the Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC), just like the SAR helicopters, and will be tasked where there is a risk to life and in support of the helicopters.
If the trial is successful, options for permanent provision will be explored, possibly in combination with similar requirements elsewhere in Government.
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