UK-headquartered 2Excel Aviation has set up an Irish subsidiary as it prepares to begin supplying fixed-wing support services to search and rescue provider Bristow Ireland on the latter’s contract with the country’s coastguard.

Bristow was in 2023 awarded a €670 million ($716 million), 10-year contract, plus an optional extension of up to three years, by the Irish Department of Transport, after beating a rival offer from incumbent CHC Ireland.

King Air MCA

Source: 2Excel Aviation

2Excel already operates two radar-equipped King Airs for UK coastguard

Under the deal, Bristow will introduce a new six-strong fleet of Leonardo Helicopters AW189s across four bases.

In addition, the contract also calls for the provision of two fixed-wing aircraft for ‘top cover’ support and environmental monitoring tasks.

Bristow is subcontracting that activity to 2Excel Ireland, which will operate two specially modified Beechcraft King Airs from Shannon airport. The company is applying for an Irish air operator certificate to support the contract.

2Excel says the twin-turboprops are already part of its fleet but have been modified for the Irish contract, delivery of which will begin in January.

Bristow and 2Excel already have a similar relationship in the UK on a long-running contract with the Maritime & Coastguard Agency.

Transition to the new contract is under way, with the first AW189 due to enter service later this year.

Bristow recently released images of the first AW189 to be acquired for the Irish operation, which is undertaking flight tests from the final assembly facility of manufacturer Leonardo Helicopters in northern Italy.

AW189 under-c-Bristow Group

Source: Bristow Group

Bristow Ireland will deploy six AW189s for the Irish contract