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Aircraft ‘huge leap’ for air search crew

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A NEW £2.5m. aircraft is a quantum leap for Channel Islands Air Search, the organisation’s founder has said.

The new aircraft landed in Guernsey yesterday 20/05 and took an acceptance flight of the Bailiwick in the afternoon.

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Founder of Channel Island Air Search captain Roger Dadd piloted the flight and was joined by the full search crew: chief officer John Fitzgerald, senior search director Andy Green and observer and engineer Graham GilbertGilbert with no u.

Captain Dadd said the new aircraft would make a real difference to air search capabilities.

‘It is the finest aviation search and rescue aircraft of its type in the world.

‘The aircraft itself cost £1.5 million and then it was another million of equipment so it has a phenomenal capacity – I refer to it as being at the cutting edge of search technology,’ he said.

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Captain Dadd said arrival of Lion’s Pride to its Guernsey home was delayed because it is their own design.

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‘It is a one-off aircraft, absolutely bespoke.

‘It was a requirement because we have never had an aircraft like this before.’

He said Lion’s Pride will be a big improvement on the temporary aircraft they were using, which had limited equipment.

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‘This one has radar, thermal imaging, homing, AIS, which is how you recognise a ship on a radar, loud hailer, which allows us to speak to you from 500 feet up, air dropping dinghies and a smoke float capability so if we see something in the water we can put a smoke float in the water which the lifeboat can find.

‘It’s a huge quantum leap. It absolutely will improve things,’ said Captain Dadd.

To thank all that have supported the long-awaited arrival of Lion’s Pride, the 60- to 90-minute acceptance flight covered as much of the Bailiwick as possible – excluding Jersey because it was there for an official blessing last month.

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Lion’s Pride took off at 3pm and flew at an altitude of between 1,500 and 2,000 metres.

It was scheduled to reach Alderney at 3.30pm, Sark at 3.50pm and Herm at 4pm – to return to Guernsey at 4.15pm.

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The flight plan included stalling en route to Alderney and a circle and missed approach around the island.

It was also due to drop smoke on the Fourquies bay found south-east of Herm before carrying out a brief search of Guernsey’s south coast cliffs.

The new plane replaces the Lion’s Pride, which crashed on 3 November 2013 on Jersey’s north cliffs after it was flown on the back-up fuel tank.

Charlotte Le Marquand

By Charlotte Le Marquand
News reporter

Charlie Le Marquand

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