The Channel Islands’ new Air Search plane won’t take off until spring next year, after the charity announced that another “significant time delay” had hit its production.
A temporary aircraft has been flying since November 2015, when a north coast crash landing saw the former plane written off.
CIAS have now been waiting on a replacement since March 2014 but Chief Officer John Fitzgerald announced yesterday that a major delay had disrupted the building process.
Production Director at Britten-Norman Simon Wade expressed the company’s “sincere regret” for the delays in the delivery of the new Search and Rescue Islander.
He commented: “The aircraft, which has been designed in close partnership with CIAS, will incorporate some of the latest in enhanced technologies and will confirm CIAS' reputation as an operator of the most sophisticated, yet economical and unique, fixed-wing airborne Search & Rescue aircraft in the world.
“Installation of some of these complex systems has taken time to finalise in order to ensure that the product offered will provide optimum performance. The architecture has been designed as a bespoke fit-out for CIAS and requires extensive validation and verification prior to submission to the regulator for approval. Whilst the company has done everything possible to ensure that this important, life-saving aircraft is completed in the shortest timescale possible, programme delays have been unavoidable.”
Nonetheless, the company say that they remain committed to delivering the aircraft at the “very earliest opportunity” and have pledged to cover all maintenance costs of the interim support aircraft until the new aircraft is delivered, “…as a gesture of our immense goodwill to CIAS, and in recognition of the people of the Channel Islands whose personal generosity enabled this project.”
Despite delays, Mr Fitzgerald moved to reassure islanders that it was “business as usual."
“Our volunteer crews continue to provide 24 hours a day, 365 days a year cover to the waters in and around the Channel Islands. We remain indebted to everyone who has supported us in fundraising for the new aircraft and those who continue to support us in raising the estimated £140,000 a year it takes to keep the service operational.”
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