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Dublin: 8°C Sunday 7 March 2021

Faster, safer, higher: Replacement of Irish Coast Guard chopper fleet completed

The Dublin region Sikorsky S92 was launched today, meaning all four coast guard aircraft bases now have upgraded choppers.

Image: Irish Coast Guard via Facebook

THE NEW S92 search & rescue helicopter for the Dublin region was officially launched at Weston Aerodrome today, completing the overhaul of the Irish Coast Guard’s chopper fleet with state-of-the-art new craft.

Built to specifications set out by the rescue service, the Sikorsky helicopters are designed to provide crews with faster on-scene times, faster patient recovery times and greater year-round capacity.

All four Coast Guard aircraft bases now have upgraded choppers. The new S92s replace the old Sikorsky S61s, which were in use until recently at the bases in Dublin, Shannon, Sligo and Waterford.

The new craft can travel at up to 275 km/h, carry up to 22 casualties and will have a range of 270 miles. In adverse weather conditions, where there’s a risk of rotor icing, the choppers can fly at a height of 10ft in temperatures as low as minus 40.

Promotional video for the Sikorsky S92 (Youtube: gucio7832)

Today’s launch follows one of the busiest years on record for the Irish Coast Guard, with 33 per cent more call-0uts than 2012 — partly as a result of the July heatwave. The helicopter crews, along with the service’s volunteer members, responded to a total of 2,627 incidents.

There were 808 helicopter missions overall, while the two west coast bases at Sligo and Shannon experiencing their busiest years on record; Shannon was particularly busy, with 290 missions flown out of the base between January last and December.

There was a 70 per cent increase in call-outs to incidents on inland waterways, with the good weather contributing to rise in emergencies involving power and sail craft (up by one-fifth).


Transport Minister Leo Varadkar with coast guard crew and senior staff at the launch of the Dublin region S92 today [Image: Irish Coast Guard/Facebook]

Speaking at the launch today in Weston, Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said the new addition meant meant the service now had one of “the most modern and effective helicopter fleets in the world”.

“This is a good occasion to pay tribute to the dedicated helicopter crews who work tirelessly to rescue lives all year round, and also the hundreds of volunteers on Coast Guard and RNLI vessels, mountain and cave rescue teams.

“It wouldn’t be possible to provide the same level of emergency response without these volunteers.”

The coast guard has also launched a competition to name all of the new helicopters, to be run in conjunction with local radio stations in counties where the craft are based.

Read: Heatwave led to 34 per cent surge in Coast Guard call-outs

Video: Let’s take a moment to remember just how great the heatwave was

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