The HM Coastguard helicopter Search and Rescue (SAR) service, operated by Bristow Helicopters, became operational at Prestwick Airport on 1 January 2016.

The Prestwick base is a state-of-the-art, purpose-built facility that is currently one of ten SAR bases strategically located across the country and operated by Bristow. Each base is home to two aircraft and 30 life-saving crew members.

Prestwick SAR houses two Sikorsky S-92 aircraft – one is the duty aircraft and the other is a back-up. The duty aircraft requires a crew of four including a Captain, co-pilot, winch operator and a winchman paramedic.

The SAR helicopter service provides a 24/7 air-based search and rescue service at sea, along the coast and inland for the whole of the UK.

The service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and is required to launch within 15 minutes between the hours of 08:00 and 22:00, and 45 minutes between 22:00 & 08:00.

Our Operations

Bristow Helicopters currently operates ten SAR bases in the UK on behalf of Her Majesty’s Coastguard.

The ten SAR bases are at Humberside, Inverness, Caernarfon, Lydd, St Athan, Newquay, Prestwick, Sumburgh, Stornoway and Lee-on-Solent.

The UK SAR helicopter service has replaced the military SAR service, however it remains a state controlled function and taskings continue to come through the Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC).

Established by London born Alan Bristow in 1955, Bristow Helicopters Limited has been providing world class SAR services in the UK since 1971 and is the world’s leading provider of industrial aviation services.

Since 1971, Bristow Helicopters has flown more than 60,000 SAR operational hours and conducted over 15,000 SAR missions, during which more than 7,000 people have been rescued by the company’s crews and helicopters, in the UK alone.

Bristow’s SAR capabilities are unmatched in the industry and the company offers SAR services in both the public and private sectors around the world.  Bristow also provides SAR services to the private sector in Australia, Canada, Guyana, Norway, Russia and Trinidad.

Bristow Helicopters offers offshore transportation, fixed wing services, Search and Rescue (SAR) services and UAS operated offshore installation inspection services.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) is a frontline delivery and emergency response organisation which is part of the Department for Transport.

Part of the MCA is HM Coastguard, which provides a UK-wide maritime emergency prevention and response capability which responds to calls for help by radio, satellite or the 999 service and coordinates maritime search and rescue (SAR) within the UK SAR region. The agency helps approximately 25,000 people each year with 21,000 incidents coordinated by its rescue centres.


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Bristow Helicopters

Bristow SAR, Prestwick International Airport , Watson’s Ayr Park, Tarbolton Road, Monkton, Prestwick KA9 2SB