The new Inverness search and rescue helicopter has had a busy first six months, with the bulk of jobs taking the team to Scotland’s highest mountain.
The team, based at Inverness Airport, has responded to 163 taskings since opening on April 1.
The base is operated by Bristow Helicopters Ltd on behalf of the Coastguard and was the first of several introduced across the UK.
The majority of taskings from Inverness have been mountain rescue operations in the Ben Nevis range.
Among the most challenging was an operation on the Castle Ridge of Ben Nevis in early April when the crew was required to winch to a very exposed position in turbulent conditions.
Chief pilot, Captain John McIntyre said: “Many of the taskings have meant operating in challenging weather conditions, with snow on the ground even in July, but the new Sikorsky S92 has proven itself a superb aircraft with the necessary capabilities for dealing with all types of operations.”
He added: “We are grateful that essentially every emergency service in the area is taking a very proactive approach to training with us. The support we have received from them and their willingness to share their local knowledge has been invaluable in ensuring a smooth transition to the new service, as has the support of RAF Lossiemouth, Inverness Airport and the local community.”
Nationwide, crews at Bristow’s five new bases responded to more than 390 taskings between April 1 and September 31.
Bases at Inverness and Humberside went live in April with the base in Caernarfon following in July. Another base went live at Lydd Airport in August and a fifth went live at St Athan at the start of October.
Bristow crews have also responded to taskings from existing Coastguard bases in Sumburgh and Stornoway, which brings the total number of rescue missions to 567.