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Helitech 2018: Airbus bags €2m Irish support contract

10th October 2018 - 09:29 GMT | by Grant Turnbull in London

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Ireland’s national police service (INPS) has awarded a contract worth up to €2 million to Airbus Helicopters UK for the support of its two H135 helicopters.

The contract, announced on 2 October, states that the OEM will provide support by the hour (SBH) services to the Garda Air Support Unit (GASU), which carries out operational air support for the INPS.

SBH is often seen as an efficient way for operators to manage costs and maximise availability when it comes to maintenance.

The unit currently comprises two helicopters, one EC135T2 and one EC135T2+. The unit took delivery of its first EC135T2 in 2001, and the second EC135T2+ was delivered in 2007 to replace an existing AS355N Ecureuil.

According to the contract notice, the maximum utilisation of the EC135T2+ and EC135T2 per year is 1,000 hours and 800 hours, respectively. Availability rates of over 85% are desired over the full course of the year, owing to the nature of police helicopter operations.

‘The primary mission of the Garda Air Support Unit  is to provide a patrol and response capability in the assistance of operational ground units of An Garda Síochána [INPS],’ said the contract notice. ‘This is generally achieved through visual contact flights.’

It continued: ‘GASU helicopters are required to operate by day and by night (subject to visual weather minima), with the broad objective being to seek out and identify the target, establish and maintain visual contact with the target while directing ground units to the scene or to intercept.’

The aircraft are maintained on the Irish Military Register, while the Irish Air Corps provides pilots and maintenance facilities on behalf of the country’s Department of Justice, Equality & Law Reform.

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