PDG Helicopters Commence UK & Eire Lighthouse Support Contract
On 1 December 2015 PDG Helicopters commenced a £13mn helicopter support contract for the three UK and Eire General Lighthouse Authorities (GLAs):
- The Commissioners of Northern Lighthouses, known as the Northern Lighthouse Board (Scotland and the Isle of Man) whose history goes back to 1768
- The Corporation of Trinity House, known as Trinity House (England, Wales, Channel Islands and Gibraltar), the oldest of the three, granted a royal charter in 1514
- The Commissioners of Irish Lights, known as Irish Lights (the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland) dating to only(!) 1786
Up to 30 November 2015 the GLAs had three separate contracts:
- Trinity House: MD902 – Specialist Aviation Services
- NLB: EC135 – Bond Air Services (part of Babcock International)
- Irish Lights: EC135 – Irish Helicopters (which is owned by PDG Helicopters)
PDG took delivery of a new Airbus Helicopters EC135T2+ G-GLAA, configured for lighthouse support, at Helitech in London on 6 October 2015 for the 7 year contract (with three optional one year extensions).
The contract supports maritime navigation aids, mostly in remote locations, includes considerable HESLO / underslung load work (the requirement was for an aircraft that could move individual loads >500kg over 50nm to support construction projects), operation with GLA’s fleet of ships (four are ‘helicopter capable’), as well as passenger movements. The contract is expected to involve around 1000 flying hours per annum.
This contract is a good example of three customers, with common specialist requirements, working together to place a cost effective long term contract. Some reports suggest this arrangement could save nearly £8mn.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority (UK CAA) issued Safety Directive SD-2015/004, on 30 November 2015 which expands their earlier Offshore Operational Directive to include lighthouse / marine light support (as well as addressing medically incapacitated passengers).
UPDATE 9 December 2015: This SD was replaced by SD-2015/005 on 9 December 2015 because the CAA had neglected to amend the definition of ‘offshore locations’ to actually include those related to marine lights.
UPDATE 20 January 2016: A short video of PDG longline work.
UPDATE 12 May 2020: Coronavirus: Keeping lighthouses working during the lockdown