Bristow Helicopters has unveiled three newly modified search and rescue helicopters — dubbed 'coronacopters' — to transport UK North workers suspected of having coronavirus from platforms back to land.

Three suspected Covid-19 cases have already been flown in the helicopters since they entered service on Wednesday, Bristow said.

BP and Repsol Sinopec Resources UK (RSRUK) have said they are using the service.

BP said on Thursday one its workers was flown from the Clair Ridge platform after they presented with Covid-19-like symptoms.

The introduction of the helicopters follows discussions with regulators, public health bodies and industry associations, including Oil & Gas UK (OGUK).

Modifications to the interiors of the Sikorsky S92 helicopters will ensure there is necessary separation between flight crew and the passengers, who will also be with an on-board medic.

They have a different seating configuration to crew change helicopters.

Other measures such as protective curtains separating the cockpit from the passenger area have also been installed.

Each aircraft will undergo a full decontamination after every flight.

Bristow said it is also providing "significant operational and medical expertise" to the UK oil industry’s pandemic steering group.

Another helicopter operator, CHC, has introduced a similar service, which is being used by operators including Shell, Total and Equinor.