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-   -   UK SAR 2013 privatisation: the new thread (https://www.pprune.org/rotorheads/511282-uk-sar-2013-privatisation-new-thread.html)

HeliComparator 10th Apr 2013 17:04

Al-bert - yes, I can read that you said my suggestion was not exactly right, and cited two examples where it was wrong. Not exactly right means to me, generally right but not in every case. If that is not what you meant, perhaps you should write more clearly? Communication is so important in SAR, or so they tell me! If your message was intended to be sarcasticly contrary to what you meant, again I would say that is not a good way to communicate in professional aviation.

Hummingfrog 10th Apr 2013 17:04

I am not in the "SAR division" so probably of no consequence to me personally, but I still have a slight dread of a large influx of SAR gods with superiority complexes who will exhaust themselves saying "we should do it like This - as we did in the military" and pouting and sulking when they don't get their way, rather than just getting on with the job as defined in Bristow's SAR ops manual. Hopefully I am quite wrong, but it is the tone of some contributers on this thread that makes me think otherwise!
Again perhaps you are showing your chip with the term

SAR gods with superiority complexes
:ugh:. What evidence do you have for this SAR god mil pilot you seem to want to tar every SAR mil pilot with?

When I left the RAF to fly in the NS I found it enlightening to see that I was only wanted as a pilot no other duties were required. I didn't feel the need to change the way they operated!! I couldn't even be a crusty old captain as the first ten years of my time on the NS I flew single pilot;)

I have no interest in who has got the contract as I am now retired and even if I was still flying in the NS I wouldn't want to go back to SAR - it is a younger man's game - once I started wearing glasses the thought of trying to peer through a rain and salt caked windscreen while trying to formate on a wildly pitching deck wasn't my idea of fun. I'd rather be sitting on an oil rig watching Sky TV before picking up the "lads" from an unmanned platform at the end of their shift:ok:

With want now appears to be a huge number of people wanting to go SAR will Bristow start a new business unit with new payscales that disengage the salaries from those paid to oil and gas pilots? I would:E


HeliComparator 10th Apr 2013 17:12

HF - my chip, as I mentioned, is not relevant and anyway I am more of a frites man.

My evidence that we have in the past recruited some SAR gods is my personal experience, admittedly some time ago. My evidence that the SAR gods still live, is this thread!

New business unit with lower payscales? Well it would make sense only in the short term for new recruits. Those lining up to go across to SAR from O&G would think again, and in the longer term it would make it very difficult to recruit from oil and gas into SAR once the eflux of mil sar was depleted.

Al-bert 10th Apr 2013 17:20

anyway I am more of a frites man.
spelling a challenge too HC? :E

Like Hummingfrog, I too am retired and don't care who gets the contract. I'm all for Civ SAR and wish the boys and girls (some of whom will undoubtably be sar gods/godesses) all the very best of luck for the future :ok:

ps I was once likened to a Jedi, not a God as such! ;)

HeliComparator 10th Apr 2013 17:31

spelling a challenge too HC
Not so far as I am aware. Perhaps you are referring to frites and not familiar with the word?

Hummingfrog 10th Apr 2013 17:35


in the longer term it would make it very difficult to recruit from oil and gas into SAR once the eflux of mil sar was depleted.
Why would you have to recruit from oil and gas? Once the SAR contract is up and running I presume that wastage would be low as, unlike the military who tend to spend 3yrs in one location before moving on either by promotion, rerole or retirement, pilots would stay in SAR for some time.

The wastage caused by retirement would then be managed by promoting co-pilots to captain and then recruiting new co-pilots who would be put through the Bristow equivalent of SARTU before being allocated to a base. There would be no need to recruit from oil and gas so salaries can remain lower than oil and gas and more profit can be taken by head office;)


Al-bert - I think he means pomme frites - those things from the bratty wagon we used to smother in mayo.:ok:

Bremen 10th Apr 2013 17:43

Rotorhub April/May . Editor piece on SAR Contract award.

In a move that will be watched closely by other government
agencies around the world, the UK has moved ahead with plans
to privatise SAR services across the country.As we report this issue in the news pages, the UK Department forTransport (DfT) announced the award of the £1.6 billion ($2.4 billion) contract to Bristow Group, bringing an end to military involvement in the SAR arena. Bristow will now provide a fleet of new S-92s and AW189s to operate from ten bases across the country from 2015 to 2026.
The knee-jerk reaction from some sections of the wider UK media was as predictable as it was amusing – painting the move as a US corporate giant doing Prince William, a flight lieutenant who commands a SAR crew at RAF Valley in Anglesey, North Wales, out of a job (one television
correspondent helpfully informed us that ‘there are two types of Sea King helicopter: one is yellow and one is red/grey’).
I am certainly not a fan of privatisation for its own sake, especially when it comes to critical national infrastructure, but the announcement should be regarded as a positive development for the UK as it looks to life beyond the Sea King from 2016. While the smaller internal capacity of the AW189 in particular has been seized on by some, the capabilities of the new aircraft, including increased speed and modern avionics/flight control systems, will make life a lot easier for pilots on more demanding SAR missions.
Certainly, the question of whether the ‘ethos’ surrounding the SAR mission will change once civilian crews take over from the military is an emotive but valid one. However, there is no doubting Bristow’s commitment or expertise in the SAR arena, any more than there would have been if Bond or CHC had secured the contract.
For a feature published in this issue, Matthew Smith spoke to many of the operators providing SAR services for government and oil and gas customers (before Bristow’s latest success was announced), and their dedication to the SAR mission is clear. Bristow itself, which had a long British heritage before being acquired by Offshore Logistics in 1996, has been providing SAR services in the UK since 1971. This includes more than 15,000 missions, during which more than 7,000 people were rescued by company-operated helicopters.
With the AW189 slated to be built at AgustaWestland’s UK facility in Yeovil, Somerset, the contract will help shore up the helicopter manufacturing capability resident in the UK. The DfT has also done well in putting the previous botched privatisation attempt behind it in awarding the contract.
For those who weren’t watching, the earlier SAR-H programme was abandoned after allegations that a former member of the joint Ministry of Defence/DfT integrated project team had assisted the Soteria consortium in its bid preparation by providing access to commercially sensitive information.
Losing the preferred bidder status effectively amounted to a £6 billion penalty for Soteria team members CHC, Thales and the Royal Bank of Scotland.
The delay caused by the SAR-H drama did not remove the simple fact that the Sea Kings will reach the end of their working lives in 2016. Handing the keys over to Bristow will allow the military, which is itself increasingly being squeezed by reductions in staff and cuts to equipmentprogrammes, to focus its attention on frontline duties.

SeaKingDriver 10th Apr 2013 17:55

meanttobe and Bremen,

Thanks for the useful and relevant posts, I had almost lost hope!


Al-bert 10th Apr 2013 18:08

Al-bert - I think he means pomme frites
naturlich :E

Bremen 10th Apr 2013 19:15

Again people starting to say the right things about UK SAR

Civilian flying rules relaxed for Bristow search and rescue service deal - Scotland / News / The Courier

Norma Snockers 10th Apr 2013 19:48

BRS latest update on UK SAR. Might answer some of the rumour mill stuff

Thanks for this, the slide about managed transition and how it is a legally binding agreement is especially interesting and somewhat goes against what Baldeep has been saying :)

llamaman 10th Apr 2013 19:54

So the CAA are happy to relax their rules where it won't cost them any money (weather limits) but not where it will (licencing)?

I know everyone that has already paid for and jumped through the hoops for their ATPLs and IRs will disagree but it's a real shame that the MOD at every recent opportunity, and transition to SAR-H was probably the best, have not pushed harder for a decent set of exemptions for military pilots.

Rigga 10th Apr 2013 19:54

Okay, so it's off topic - but I just had to quote this from the Bristow briefing...no doubt quoted from elsewhere:

"SAR is not a front line activity, so the UK government is able to release people back to the military".

So...which rear-echelon personnel hasn't got DPM's?

hot_spud 10th Apr 2013 19:59

I agree. The thread seems like its getting back on track and providing a more useful debate and fact sharing thread.

I do wonder how the experienced current mil SAR guys are going to be able to get S-92/AW189 experience before they can be Capts at same time maintain SAR cover (crew levels)? ala Managed Transition.

Maybe these guys will have to accept Copilot slots and play catchup, hoping for natural wastage and Capt slots becoming available a few years down the line?

I am not under the illusion that there will be lots of immediately ex-mil SAR guys/girls getting the jobs but I would expect, a hand ful? So even 1 or 2 from each SAR Flt released 'early' to get S92/AW189 experience on oil & gas, for eg, will hurt manning of the flts, a lot, and go against Managed Transition (MT) philosophy. In summary, I guess I'm concluding that MT might have a huge negative effect on the mil guys in otherwise good positions to join Bristow SAR UK.

Ideas welcomed?

llamaman 10th Apr 2013 20:09


Spot-on with the 'elephant in the room'.

To my eyes MT has really been devised strongly in favour of military manning to somehow maintain control over the exodus (however small or large) and therefore maintain flights on-state until endex. Bristow can call all the shots, they are essentially free to recruit whom they like so long as the DfT contract requirements are fulfilled. There is nothing to stop anybody who holds a licence PVR'ing and negotiating on their own terms with Bristow. The 'mutually agreeable PVR date' relies totally on an individual's loyalty to the MOD. IMHO MT doesn't appear to be robust enough to guarantee a smooth transition to SAR-H which is surely what it's one and only purpose was meant to be? I'm hoping the Bristow road-shows will prove me wrong but I'm not holding my breath.

Pink Panther 10th Apr 2013 20:43

Yes, thanks meanttobe and Bremen for the links:ok:, thats just what I was looking for. I was starting to get tired of the willy waving competiton that has been going on.:E

[email protected] 11th Apr 2013 07:29

There is nothing to stop anybody who holds a licence PVR'ing and negotiating on their own terms with Bristow.
2 problems with that statement llamaman - firstly, we have been told that Bristow won't employ people who do exactly that (if one had already PVR'd prior to contract award that might be different) and secondly mil manning can hold on to anyone who PVRs for a minimum of a year and have the ability to extend that in the interest of the Service.

Additionally, the flying pay and pension hits that those not on PAS will take if they PVR may also sway many.

It is in the greatest interests of both sides that the managed transition works.

Interesting thoughts about lower pay scales for SAR than offshore - what will stop low time pilots taking the co-pilot slots, getting their type rating, IR and time on type before departing for oil and gas and rock-star wages?

The same could be said of anyone going in to SAR in the next few years - if the pay isn't right, there will be an exodus to where it is better giving a constant dilution of experience and a higher through-life training cost (which is expensive) for the contract.

The Bristow name has a lot of credibility in UK - some American business practices do not - let us hope that the desire to make money does not outweigh the need to provide the quality SAR service everyone is expecting.

jimf671 11th Apr 2013 08:08

... before departing for
oil and gas and rock-star wages?
This is where engaging fully with Managed Transition makes huge sense for Bristow.
What have you given up to keep doing SAR and to fight for SAR standards and kit? Make that leap out from the page and the job's a goodun.

NRDK 11th Apr 2013 14:09

Bondage is a dirty word
Those (non TUPE) joining UK SAR without a type rating will be under a bonding agreement to Bristow(normal company procedure UK wide with all operators)
. After that has expired they are free to move to UK oil & gas with who ever they want to. If UK SAR is a different BU within Bristow, then that may not be so easy in terms of T's & C's (as is the CHC problem).

With BSP setting up SAR 2014, Bristow & CHC stand to lose up to 20 SAR qualified crew. However some Northern UK/Ireland crew waiting patiently for a UK base of choice may stay for that rather than the Far East and not miss the boat back in the UK. After a stint with BSP, it will be only the less attractive UK SAR bases open to those that return on completion of their time there. As 212man mentioned..the timing for Bristow has come at an unfortunate period. The great news being this healthy need for crews everywhere is great for terms and conditions.:ok:

ShyTorque 11th Apr 2013 15:08

I see no mention of the age limits - bearing in mind they are asking for ex-military crews to apply. Anyone seen info on this?

Thomas coupling 11th Apr 2013 15:42

It's against the law to mention age for recruitment/retirement. The only limit is Captains can't be captains after 60. A CAA/ICAO limit I believe.

farsouth 11th Apr 2013 15:49

The only limit is Captains can't be captains after 60. A CAA/ICAO limit I believe.
Is that some SAR specific rule I have never heard of, or are you confusing it with the fact that a Captain aged 60 or over cannot fly with a co-pilot who is also 60 or over - i.e. ONE of the crew (Captain OR co-pilot) must be under 60

(I spent many hours flying as co-pilot on the North sea with Captains who were between 60 and 64 years 364 days old........)

meanttobe 11th Apr 2013 15:54

Along with the presentation posted yesterday please clink on the link below. This is a webcast from Bill Chiles CEO Bristow along with commercial and ops directors. This webcast deal entirely with the UK SAR contact win, its over 3 hrs long with some safety stuff at the beginning. Again it may fill in some blanks and put pay to some rumour and BS.

Bristow Investors ? Event Details ? BRS ? bristowgroup.com

ShyTorque 11th Apr 2013 16:59

The rules about age differ depending on whether or not the role is classed as Public Transport. A full career military retiree will be aged aged 55, or possibly slightly older. Hence my question.

HeliComparator 11th Apr 2013 17:39

ST the rule for public transport is that you can be captain up to 65 for multi-pilot ops, provided the other pilot is less than 60. For single pilot ops its 60 but that is not relevant for SAR. I can't see the company being able to put any other upper age limit on it, that would be discrimination on the grounds of age - illegal. However I suppose if you were 64 they would probably try to wriggle out of giving you a type rating, which is not unreasonable law notwithstanding.

High_Expect 11th Apr 2013 17:51

An observation from over the fence chaps if you don't mind. Why does this Managed Transition make any sence for Bristow? A mate who recently attended and interview for a SAR captains role said the place was full of ex mil American and Canadian SAR pilots. Why would a commercial company want to give a speaking chit to the RAF over who they recruit. This is a commercial world chaps and they will make there own decisions based on meeting contracted obligations with minimum costs ( the contract states the experience minimums I believe - 500hrs on type being the main one for captains) don't believe everything manning tell you - you make your own destiny!

I would put £10 on the fact Bristow know nothing about this "managed path" Bristow need full manning and trained (500hrs on type) aircrew ready for the midnight handover. When the ship is full it will set sail without you.

High_Expect 11th Apr 2013 17:55

+ would it not be illegal for the RAF to attempt to block an application from a civilian to a civilian company. They can only hold you to more than 12mths under exceptional circumstances.

snaggletooth 11th Apr 2013 18:12


it is 'Managed Transition', not 'Managed Path'.

If Bristow know nothing about it why pray tell is there a specific MT application process on the BristowSAR recruitment page?

Conspiracy theorists please desist and let those that wish to apply to do so and succeed or fail by their own efforts, best man/woman for the job and all that.

Good luck everyone.

ShyTorque 11th Apr 2013 18:16

ST the rule for public transport is that you can be captain up to 65 for multi-pilot ops, provided the other pilot is less than 60. For single pilot ops its 60 but that is not relevant for SAR. I can't see the company being able to put any other upper age limit on it, that would be discrimination on the grounds of age - illegal. However I suppose if you were 64 they would probably try to wriggle out of giving you a type rating, which is not unreasonable law notwithstanding.
Thanks, I'm aware of the rules for PT (I've been working under them for quite a long time) but that wasn't actually the intended meaning of my question. ;)

It was rather about practical age limit if that's more clear, for application.
Is it to be classed as PT? Survivors don't often need to buy a ticket to get a ride in a SAR helicopter.

High_Expect 11th Apr 2013 18:27

Snaggle I did say I was an outsider. But realistically how do you expect it to work. Don't the mil hold the cover up until a certain date and then Bristow take over the next day? That would mean the Mil need full manning as do Bristow. That doesn't leave a lot of transition to manage in my unqualified opinion. I would hate to see guys having blind faith in a "system" that may be subtly flawed?

Do you work for manning? :cool:

hot_spud 11th Apr 2013 19:19

The mil guys (and we are talking RN and RAF current SAR) might be aged early 30s upwards. The era of guys of this age poss finish their contracts with mil at aged 38, so if early 30s and they have the hours then prob looking at accepting a lesser pension from mil, or if timing is in their favour, a guy aged 36 now will be out within 2 years and hopefully retain their pension. These are the youngest realistically, then you might get guys who are on a PAS contract and they will be any age from 38 up to 55 (or greater if on continuance). Hope this makes sense?


[email protected] 11th Apr 2013 21:08

The links that meantobe has posted show Bristow are serious about the managed transition whatever the naysayers may believe.

However, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that any people that are being taken on now with the promise of SAR seats are a contingency plan B in the event that not many ex-mil apply or make the grade.

ShyTorque 11th Apr 2013 21:20

HS, I have no problem understanding your post; I'm ex mil rotary myself.

llamaman 11th Apr 2013 21:30

Of course Bristow are serious about managed transition, they have to be but only to make it work from their perspective. I suspect they're not overly fussed about the potential manning problems that the military will have to deal with as crews start to jump the fence. As previously mentioned by more than one poster just how will it work? The military SAR flights have to be suitably manned to maintain UK SAR cover up to handover and Bristow have to be suitably manned to pick up the reins from day one. Something has to give. Despite the handover of flights being staggered I fail to see how military crews of any significant number will be able to depart early enough to make the whole thing work. It's not 'neersaying', just some relevant questioning that merits debate within this forum.

hot_spud 11th Apr 2013 21:52

ST, ok fair enough. I was just quashing a potential for anybody to assume that the mil guys applying for SAR UK would be mainly 55 years +.


HeliComparator 11th Apr 2013 22:15

High Expect - presumably your mate was attending for an interview in USA for a job in USA? Ex Us and Canadian mil pilots would need EASA qualifications for UK SAR, something they are highly unlikely to have. Bit of scaremongering?

charlieDontSurf 12th Apr 2013 00:02

Ok, enough about who will fly, mill transition etc...

Can anyone who has some insight tell me about the conditions planned for the SAR-crews (civ or mil, whoever, it's Bristow now...!)?

-What roster will it most likely be? Is it possible to live some distace away from the base, or do you need to move close by?

-What salary can one expect? I assume it will be higher than offshore CAT? Right? What is a typical salary for a co-pilot in Aberdeen?

-Is it difficult to get a UK work-permit? I personally have standard JAR-FCL (soon EASA I guess) certificates, and live in Norway.

Here in Norway we have many pilots from UK, Germany, Denmark, Holland etc. In my eyes it seems pretty stright forward to work abroad as long as you have the right certificates?

But before someone starts a long thread about foreign pilots, I'm most interested in information about the roster..... :)

Hummingfrog 12th Apr 2013 09:24

I would be surprised if non EU pilots would be eligible for a work permit for SAR due to the large number of EU qualified pilots available to fill the role. Can you imagine the Sun headline if non EU pilots are recruited and ex mil pilots are not!

Sacked and Redundant
Our SAR boys are ignored by American firm
in favour of cheap foreign labour
by Dick Chopper our aviation consultant;)

I am sure that Bristow wouldn't want to see those headlines in the Sun!!


jimf671 12th Apr 2013 10:22

The contractor could end up carrying the can publicly for all sorts of things on this contract. It's no wonder that they are carefully managing the public and media relations including using outside specialists.

If there is change that people don't fully understand, and very few understand this one, they will tend to have a go at the most obvious target. In spite of the BIG letters on the side of the aircraft, the contractor is more likely to collect the flak than the customer.


From an MR point of view, some of those foreign or non-EU pilots are welcome in the mix. There is clearly a good variety of pilots across the entire Bristow fleet including some from Norway, or the Alps, or Alaska, or Nepal, for whom mountains are nothing new. Diversity fuels evolution.

It seems to me that it will end up with a good mix. I expect part of this mix will be a large number of Managed Transition pilots and probably even more MT rear-crew. Inevitably, there will be one or two guys who are currently working in SAR in neighbouring territories, who might be Brits or might not. Then a wedge of NS bus-drivers who've always wanted to do this or wanted to return to it. Maybe a few guys and girls from further afield.

If most of them are people who really love doing the job and a few are shekel-counters who are just passing through, and if some have monster log-books and some are relative newbies, then we are in no better or worse place than we are at present.

onesquaremetre 12th Apr 2013 10:29

How can CAA approved TREs check the performance of the aircrewmen?
Another nil return to a simple question that is obviously too difficult for some. It looks like they can't, which means that 50% of the aircrew will be operating with no form of external verification of their ability (except for their medical skills).

For the pilots, Lala Steady said

the CAA inspectors who are supposed to ensure the AOC is being complied with, don't actually fly with the SAR crews - they only fly with the TREs! So as long as you have competent TREs, the operational crews can be crap and the CAA won't know!
That doesn't seem too wide of the mark either judging by what others have said about the sorties that the CAA may fly on.

So is that not self-policing?

Profit making services to the public that are ultimately paid for by the Treasury must not be in a position to sign themselves up as competent without all aspects of their operation being rigorously checked by an independent external evaluation team.

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