Highlands & Islands

Kintail MRT seeks early training with new air rescue crews

Coastguard helicopter
Image caption A civilian contractor already operates coastguard helicopters

A mountain rescue team has said it would seek early training with the contractor that eventually takes over UK aeronautical search and rescue.

Under UK government plans, the RAF and Royal Navy are to give up providing the helicopter cover by 2016.

The move will see the military's ageing Sea Kings replaced by newer helicopters operated by a civilian contractor.

Kintail Mountain Rescue Team (MRT) said it would wish to train with the crews before they took over the duties fully.

It said its members will need to adapt their skills to working with the newer more powerful helicopters.

Also, Kintail MRT said the new service may benefit from the experience of mountain rescuers.

In a statement, Kintail MRT said it had a good relationship with military crews and the CHC Scotia crews already operating Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) search and rescue helicopters.

Best practice

Kintail MRT has been in regular contact with the RAF, police, Civil Aviation Authority and CHC Scotia about the future shape of air search and rescue

The team said: "We also intend to engage with the successful helicopter contractors in the periods leading up to new contracts so that we are ready for change.

"We will take every opportunity to share new information and best practice with our colleagues in Scottish Mountain Rescue and teams in other UK jurisdictions.

"It is already clear that the new service will provide aircraft with speed, power and reliability that was never going to be possible with a 1960s design.

"The flying safety of our members, and those who are rescued, will be improved."

Kintail MRT added: "What has also become clearer than ever before is the outstanding nature of the work done by both military and civilian aircrew using previous generations of aircraft."

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