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RAF Sea Kings will fly from Chivenor base for one more week

Search and Rescue helicopters have been saving lives from their base at Chivenor for 60 years Credit: ITV News

Our reporter Seth Conway is spending the day with Search and Rescue helicopters in Chivenor and has some breaking news.

The RAF Sea Kings from twenty two Squadron were due to stop running today but ITV has learned they'll continue to operate for another week before the service is handed over to a private company.

It's a slight reprieve but it's still a sad moment for the community.

More on ITV West Country tonight at 6pm.

Statement Chivenor will continue to provide full helicopter search and rescue capability for a further period of around one week at the request of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency who asked for this continuance.

The option to provide a continuance of service has been part of the UK SAR Transition Planning programme for all of the 6 RAF SAR flights in the UK and this request will neither affect the level of SAR service across the region served by Chivenor, nor in any impede the future careers of RAF personnel serving at Chivenor.

PICTURES: VC10 jet lands at Newquay Airport

One of the last three flying Vickers VC10 jetliners landed at Newquay Airport on Wednesday lunchtime to become a permanent part of the Classic Air Force collection.

The VC10 lands at Newquay Airport. Credit: ITV News West Country
The VC10 on the tarmac at Newquay Airport. Credit: ITV News West Country
Crowds wowed by the sight of the VC10. Credit: ITV News West Country


  1. National

New rescue helicopters 'will reach larger area of UK'

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.

An RAF Sea King helicopter that will no longer be used under the new contract. Credit: Chris Jackson/PA Wire

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.

  1. National

Background to Search and Rescue privatisation

A Sea King helicopter Credit: Peter Byrne/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The plans to privatise search and rescue helicopters were laid originally out by the Labour government in 2006.

The plans were controversial, and designed to replace the ageing Sea Kings that were currently in use.

Soteria SAR was announced as the frontrunning bidder in February 2010, but a year later it was prevented from acquiring the contract due to several issues with the conduct of their bid team, as well as forming part of the coalition government's spending review.

  1. National

Factfile: The Sea King helicopter

The Sea King helicopter has been in service for over four decades, with a distinguished history with the Search and Rescue service as well as other assignments.

  • The Sea King has operated in 10 wars and been involved in 15,000 rescue operations
  • It has saved more lives than any other aircraft
  • It is reportedly Prince William's favourite aircraft
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