Airbox to supply PANDA situational awareness package to Bristow Helicopter’s search and rescue operations

Airbox, the specialist navigation and mission system developer (and sponsors of the Pilot monthly Air-brained Quiz) has won the contract to supply Bristow Helicopters with the Airbox PANDA to support its UK SAR operations and Gap SAR bases in Sumburgh and Stornoway. The company will provide its mission visualisation platform to all of Bristow Helicopter’s SAR aircraft and bases, giving them efficient and safe flight and route planning and execution.

Airbox PANDA’s range of situational awareness products are already used extensively by the Police, Emergency Services and the Military for both air and ground roles. Bristow Helicopters, that began operation of the UK search and rescue helicopter service on behalf of HM Coastguard at Humberside and Inverness on 1 April 2015, will go-live at the remaining eight bases in a phased approach until July 2017. Gap SAR bases at Sumburgh and Stornoway have been live since summer 2013.

The Airbase software it will be using has been designed to improve a pilot’s knowledge of their environment whether at the planning, operational or debrief phase of a mission. Among the innovations available within the PANDA package are power line and obstacle avoidance, advanced fuel planning and calculations to display areas of operation.

William Moore, Airbox’ Chief Technical Officer and co-founder of the company explains, “We’re immensely proud to be providing Bristow with PANDA both in the Bristow’s ops rooms and in all the new UK SAR aircraft. The software has evolved over time from a pure flight-planning and execution app to a mission management system that allows complex planning, remote tasking and navigation for aircraft operating in, often hazardous environments.”

Samantha Willenbacher, Director of UK Search and Rescue at Bristow Helicopters Ltd, says: “We looked at a number of products before choosing the Airbox PANDA system which provides enhanced situational awareness for our pilots. Its ability to alert our crews of available airspace and warn of overhead wires and other obstacles as well as assess potential landing sites on the move will help our crews save valuable time, effort and ultimately lives.”