Air Corps sets record with 3,300 missions


The Air Corps broke its own operational record last year, clocking up 6,500 flying hours on more than 3,300 missions. Some 144 of the missions saved 50 lives in search-and-rescue call-outs, according to the annual statistics published by the service.

1998 was also the first full working year for the Garda Air Support Unit, for which the Air Corps provides pilots, technical crews and services from the home base, Casement Aerodrome in west Dublin. This unit completed 1,616 missions and clocked up 1,873 flying hours.

In July, an Air Corps Alouette 3 helicopter and crew were deployed on a full-time basis to the new Waterford Air Station to provide south-east search-and-rescue cover. East coast medium-range cover is now provided on contract to the Government by Scottish Bond Helicopters.

Ministerial air transport took up 1,250 flying hours last year, on 310 missions. The CASA fishery protection aircraft recorded 5,367 sightings during 266 maritime missions. There were 130 air ambulance flights and 35 island medical evacuations. The Air Corps also provided nine island relief flights, which included transfer of individuals or food to islands cut off by bad weather. There was continuing co-operation with the Department of the Marine and Natural Resources, the RNLI, mountain rescue teams, Irish Marine Emergency Service (IMES) coast and cliff rescue units, and the Civil Defence.