The Department for Transport has said that under the new contract helicopters will be able to reach a larger area of the UK Search and Rescue region within an hour of take-off than is currently possible.
It added that, based on historic incident data, it is estimated there will be an overall improvement in flying times to incidents of around 20 percent (from 23 to 19 minutes).
Presently, approximately 70 percent of high and very high-risk areas within the UK SAR region are reachable by helicopter within 30 minutes. Under the new contract, approximately 85 percent of the same area would be reached within this time frame.
It was the end of a chapter today for the Isles of Scilly - the last daily helicopter flight taking people to the mainland. British International Helicopters operated the world's oldest passenger service.
The company blames rising costs and falling passenger numbers.
It brings to a close nearly 50 years of helicopter travel between Penzance and the islands.
Cornwall Council has blamed Tesco for the helicopter link between Penzance and the Isles of Scilly being scrapped.
The operators said a legal challenge by Tesco scuppered a deal to sell the heliport at Penzance to another supermaket chain which would have funded the flights. The council called on Tesco to withdraw its challenge.
Helicopter flights to the Isles of Scilly from Penzance will be scrapped from the end of October. British International Helicopters says it can no longer afford to run the route. It's been described as a 'devastating body blow' for the islands and west Cornwall. Steve Hardy reports.