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Search & Rescue to return to Manston

March 26th 2013

The Search & Rescue helicopter service is to return to Manston Airport.
With the planned closure of RAF Wattisham and the award of a new S&R contact to Bristows, the service is expected to operate from Manson Airport with effect from 1st July, 2015.
Commenting on the planned move Manston's MP, Sir Roger Gale, said this (Tuesday) morning:
" Thanet's MPs, at the time Jonathan Aitken and myself, opposed the original re-location of the search and rescue service from Manston to Wattisham in a parliamentary debate. We were concerned then - and I have been concerned since - that the distancing of the aircraft from the busiest sea lane in the World might result in delayed response to any serious incident.
Happily, no such disaster has taken place in the intervening years but the fact remains that the
Channel bottleneck that is the Straits of Dover is, that her like children running backwards and forwards across a motorway, an accident waiting to happen.
We are fortunate to enjoy an excellent coastguard service as well as the volunteers of the RLNI, but there have been times in the past when rescue and recovery has been dependent upon helicopters and there is the ever constant fear that those services may be needed again.
To have the aircraft based in close proximity to both the Channel and the Thames Estuary as well as the dangerous waters off the North Foreland and in the North Sea is therefore a very welcome return.
My understanding is that new facilities will be constructed to house and service the helicopters and that, in turn, will both create employment and underscore the importance of Manston Airport as a significant contributor to aviation in the South East. I regard today's announcement as very good news indeed."

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