Sizewell: Helicopter service for Greater Gabbard wind farm is a UK first

IT was a UK first that required nerves of steel and a head for heights.

But as these impressive images show this group of hardy engineers were up to the task.

The photos were taken during Bond Air Services’ maiden flight to the Greater Gabbard offshore wind farm near Sizewell.

It was the very first helicopter operation of its kind in the UK - with technicians flown in by hoist to provide maintenance for the giant turbines.

Bosses hope that this will improve safety and ensure they can reach parts that are impossible by access by boat.

The new aerial support service operates from a purpose-built facility at Lowestoft Port using a Eurocopter EC135T2i.

It will mean operations such as those pictured could soon become a common sight off the Suffolk coast - with Bond Air contracted to provide a seven days a week service.

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David Bond, commercial manager for marine services at the Gloucestershire based company, said: “We’re delighted to have started operations at Greater Gabbard.

“It was the very first flight of its kind so marks an important milestone for the company which strengthens our reputation for innovation and reinforces our position as the UK’s market leader in the provision of helicopter services.”

Stephen Rose, offshore wind generation manager at Greater Gabbard Offshore Winds

Limited, added: “Safety is our number one priority at all times, and by using helicopters it means that we can get greater access to the turbines in conditions which may have been otherwise impossible by boat.”

Greater Gabbard is a joint project between SSE and RWE npower renewables and consists of 140 turbines, generating 500MW - enough to power around 530,000 homes.