CI Air Search hoping to take off in new plane this autumn

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In November 2013 the charity launched its Lions Pride plane from its base in Guernsey to join the search for two missing fishermen near the Ecréhous.

However, after crossing over to Jersey, the aircraft, which was carrying five people, was forced to make an emergency landing in a field near to Devil’s Hole. No one was injured.

The plane sustained serious damage and was written off in the crash. A campaign was launched shortly after to raise £800,000 for a replacement.

An Air Accident Investigation report later revealed that the accident was a result of the smaller reserve fuel tanks being selected, causing the plane to run out of fuel.

The service has been using an interim aircraft to conduct search-and-rescue operations since the crash.

A new plane was originally scheduled to be delivered to CIAS by November 2016 but production issues at the manufacturer’s factory in Romania delayed it until November 2017.

However, in May 2017 it was announced that the project had been delayed indefinitely.

Now, Roger Dadd, founder of Channel Islands Air Search, said he was confident they would receive their new aircraft in the autumn and representatives had visited Britten-Norman’s UK factory, where it was being built, last month.

‘Presently, the aircraft is awaiting the wing section which is being manufactured in Romania and is expected to ship to the UK in July,’ he said.

‘Work has commenced on fitting the fuselage with the cabling, instrumentation and additional work required to accommodate the FLIR [infrared nightvision] camera as well as the radar. The consoles containing the computer equipment and touch screens have been completed and the wing section will be attached as soon as it arrives.’

He also said that the new Islander aircraft would undergo its first test flight later this year before being painted and delivered.

‘On behalf of everyone involved with air search, I would like to thank the public for their continued support,’ he said.

‘Even with an interim aircraft it takes many thousands of pounds to keep this voluntary service in the air and we are grateful for every donation we receive, no matter the amount.’

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