Sikorsky Aerospace Services (SAS) announced Wednesday at Heli-Expo ’13 the signing of a 10-year Total Assurance Program (TAP) agreement to support the S-92 fleet operated by Bristow Group. Valued at more than $840 million, the renewal was signed late last year following expiration of a prior seven-year support contract. Sikorsky offers TAP maintenance support to commercial and military operators of the S-76, S-92 and S-70 worldwide, with the program covering up to 98 percent of the cost of parts replacement on the airframe, drive train, gearboxes, avionics and consumable items.
With the new S-76D leading the way, Sikorsky is looking forward to a healthy market for its commercial helicopter division.
According to S-76 program manager Leon Silva, the S-76D is built on “a timeless design” represented by more than 700 S-76 models flying in 46 countries. While the S-76 corporate/VIP fleet has logged a total of 642,000 flight hours, that number barely registers in comparison to the 4.07 million flight hours accumulated in support of offshore oil production.
Offshore-energy helicopter service operator Bristow Group reported increases in revenue and net income for the fourth quarter of last year. Compared with the same period in 2011, operating revenue increased by 17 percent, to $346.7 million, and adjusted net income grew to $42.6 million, a $14.8 million jump from the comparable 2011 period.
Bristow Group posted strong financial results for the nine months ending Dec. 31, 2012, reporting net income of $90 million on $993 million in revenues. Revenues for the quarter ending the year were $346.7 million, a 17-percent increase from the same period one year ago.
Bristow, which provides helicopter services to the oil-and-gas industry worldwide, attributed its improved quarterly results to increases in revenues in Canada, Europe, Australia, West Africa and the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.
Bristow Helicopters, the largest global helicopter provider, is set to become the U.S. launch customer for the not-yet-certified Eurocopter EC175. Representatives of the operator and manufacturer are expected to sign the purchase agreement at Eurocopter’s Heli-Expo booth (No. C2922) at 3 p.m. this afternoon, here in Las Vegas.
Global demand for helicopters is expected to increase over the next five years, according to the results of Honeywell’s Turbine-Powered Civil Helicopter Purchase Outlook survey, released here at Heli-Expo ‘13. Deliveries of new civilian-use helicopters will total between 4,900 and 5,600 units during 2013-2017 according to the survey, with strong demand focused in the first three years of the period and reflected in every region of the world. This is 35 percent higher for this three-year period than was recorded in last year’s survey.
Eurocopter anticipates that a solution to the main gearbox problem that has grounded the North Sea fleet of EC225s will be available next month. Offshore operators, especially those in the North Sea, have seen major disruption of their activities, as have the oil and gas companies that depend on helicopter transportation for crew changes on their platforms.
Bristow officials are confident an “interim way to safely fly” Eurocopter EC225s will be found late this spring or early this summer. In a recent fiscal third-quarter earnings conference call, top executives at the helicopter operator said such an interim fix could be tighter oversight of Hums parameters, thus confirming what Eurocopter’s CEO hinted late last month. A shaft redesign, if needed, would take about a year-and-a-half, Bristow officials estimate.
Offshore operator Bristow “entered into an agreement” yesterday to order 10 Sikorsky S-92 medium-twin helicopters and secured options for another 16. The move emerges as the operator is keeping 16 Eurocopter Super Pumas on the ground, following two controlled ditchings that affected the EC225 type in just six months. Both ditchings were caused by a failure of the main gearbox.
The busy North Sea oil and gas rig transportation sector lost nearly a third of its capacity on October 23, after CHC Helicopter suspended all flight operations using the Eurocopter EC 225. The ban, pending further investigation, came after a company Super Puma ditched in the North Sea off the coast of Scotland the day before. CHC competitors Bond and Bristow also grounded their Super Pumas after the incident.
The aircraft suffered a cracked gearbox shaft, according to the UK’s Air Accident Investigation Branch.