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Two new state-of-the-art aircraft have taken to the skies, boosting the lifesaving search and rescue missions carried out by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).
Equipped with multiple state-of-the-art sensors, the Beechcraft King Air B200 planes can spot a person in the water up to 40 miles away and can drop emergency locator beacons, communications and first aid equipment to those in danger.
Specially-trained pilots and their crew will be on stand-by to respond to emergency situations around-the-clock, conducting wide-area searches around the UK coastline.
Operating out of Doncaster-Sheffield Airport, the new aircraft will also support HM Coastguard’s counter pollution activities by scoping out pollution in UK waters.
Maritime Minister Nusrat Ghani said: ‘The ground-breaking new technology aboard these aircraft will be an invaluable asset in time critical rescue situations, ensuring our rescue teams are better equipped than ever to save lives.’
On average, the current fleet of search and rescue helicopters (SARH) respond to seven taskings a day, with more than 1,600 people rescued around the UK last year.
Commercial and programmes director at the MCA Damien Oliver added:
‘The Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s new aircraft will enhance HM Coastguard’s existing and future search and rescue capabilities.
‘These Beechcraft King Air B200 aircraft are a welcome addition to the MCA’s fleet of helicopters and planes and boast state-of-the-art cameras and sensors that can detect people in the water at considerable distance. The aircraft will also provide further assistance to other public bodies in the work that they do.’
The Beechcraft King Air B200 aircraft are equipped with electro-optical infrared search cameras and the latest multi-spectral reconnaissance sensors, which are coordinated through an integrated mission control system. Small stores, such as emergency beacons and flares, can also be distributed by the aircraft to survivors of a sinking vessel at sea.