Carlisle MP Welcomes Signing of £1.6 Billion Aviation Search and Rescue Contract

The UK Second-Generation Search and Rescue Aviation programme, known as UKSAR2G, will replace the highly successful current search and rescue helicopter and fixed-wing aerial surveillance services in the UK when they end from 2024.

Speaking following the announcement, John Stevenson MP for Carlisle said: “This is fantastic news for Carlisle and the wider region. This investment will safeguard thousands of lives and protect UK economic interests for years to come.”

UKSAR2G will continue to be a vital helicopter emergency response capability available to all the emergency services including HM Coastguard.

The planes that operate under these arrangements will support operations for HM Coastguard, policing, border protection, fisheries protection, environmental protection, and a range of other tasks.

Drones will also support this work although they will not replace any of the helicopters or planes we plan to operate under these new arrangements.

Following a highly competitive 18-month procurement process, a Written Ministerial Statement was laid in the House of Commons Library yesterday by Robert Courts MP, Minister for Aviation, Maritime & Security announcing that the Maritime and Coastal Agency (MCA) has signed a circa £1.6 billion ten-year contract with Bristow Helicopters Ltd.

Two new seasonal bases will also open at Fort William and Carlisle respectively, which is in response to growing tourism in the Ben Nevis and Lake District areas.

The new contract for Carlisle will commence on April 1 2026, operating 12 hours a day from April 1 to September 30 each year.