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Helicopters (Stornoway)

Volume 115: debated on Friday 8 May 1987

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asked the Secretary of State for Transport if, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Caithness and Sutherland, of 30 April, Official Report, column 224, he will state precisely when he anticipates the Sikorsky S61N mark II helicopter will be on station at Stornoway; what operations the standard S61N machine will be able to perform at night until it is replaced; and if he will make a statement.

The precise date when the definitive Sikorsky S61N mark II will be based at Stornoway is dependent on acquisition, installation and thorough testing of certain specialised avionics equipment, which, presently being unique to the Sumburgh helicopter, is not available off the shelf. However, the fully fitted aircraft is expected to be available for service in the autumn prior to the onset of winter weather.In the meantime it is considered more satisfactory to place a standard S61N at Stornoway with suitably upgraded navigational and rescue equipment rather than have no facility at all. The only limitation to the interim aircraft operating effectively in most respects at night is the availability to the pilot of external references and good horizons for hovering; such a limitation is not particularly restrictive during the long hours of daylight during the summer and the relatively low incidence of thick weather.