Lifeboat crews enjoy training exercise with new helicopter

Coastguard Rescue helicopter 'Golf Echo' with Tynemouth RNLI all weather lifeboat off Tynemouth. Picture by Adrian Don/RNLI
Coastguard Rescue helicopter 'Golf Echo' with Tynemouth RNLI all weather lifeboat off Tynemouth. Picture by Adrian Don/RNLI

Lifeboat volunteers have been put through their paces training with a new rescue helicopter.

Crew from Tynemouth RNLI took part in a training exercise with one of the new Sikorsky search and rescue helicopters which are taking over from the RAF.

The exercise was a great success with a number of new operating practices identified and rehearsed.

Tynemouth Lifeboat operations manager David Stenhouse

From April, the yellow Sea King, based at RAF Boulmer, will no longer be used by the Coastguard for search-and-rescue missions at sea.

Ahead of the switch, Sikorsky ‘Golf Echo’ flew from its Humberside base to the Tyne for an exercise to enable the aircrew and volunteer crews of Tynemouth RNLI inshore and all weather lifeboats to familiarise themselves with any new working techniques.

Tynemouth Lifeboat operations manager David Stenhouse said: “The introduction of the new helicopters is imminent so we needed to train together to ensure that the lifeboat and helicopter crews are fully prepared by the time we have to do it for real.”

“The exercise was a great success with a number of new operating practices identified and rehearsed.”

The RNLI and Coastguard aircrew practised landing the winchman from the helicopter to the lifeboats, and a stretcher from the all weather lifeboat to the helicopter.

The Sikorsky S-92 is a larger and faster aircraft, generating a more powerful downdraft from its rotor-blades.