San Francisco-based Macquarie Rotorcraft Leasing (MRL) purchased two Sikorsky S-92As for its growing fleet aimed at supporting operators in the oil-and-gas and search-and-rescue markets, the company announced today at Heli-Expo. The two S-92s will be leased back to Avincis subsidiary Bond Offshore Helicopters and will be delivered in the second quarter. MRL, a wholly owned subsidiary of Australia’s Macquarie Bank, also purchased two S-92As and two S-76Ds in November and recently added an additional S-76D and two other helicopters to its roster.
In 2009 offshore-energy helicopter operator Bristow Group bought 42.5 percent of Brazil’s Lider Aviação Holding for $174 million. “Bristow is happy with its investment in Lider,” Bristow executive vice president Mark Duncan recently told AIN. “It was a bold and strategic move and it was the right move.”
The rarefied offshore energy market continues to be the prime driver for development of new civil helicopters, but the training and entry-level market is also heating up, with Bell and others announcing or hinting at new models. Various studies predict that worldwide civil helicopter production will double between now and 2020 in terms of overall sales value as OEMs focus on delivering larger and more expensive helicopters.
The rarefied deepwater oil and gas market has spawned new players and big deals in the helicopter operating leasing market, but to date these transactions have largely been confined to medium and large helicopters. What will be the impact of leasing on the industry as a whole, especially for smaller operators with light helicopters in the non-oil-and-gas segments, and will it ever become as predominant as it is for airlines, where approximately one-third of the fleet is leased?
Raising commonality in the way different companies operate the same helicopter type will be among the subjects of the safety review launched by North Sea operators Bristow, Avincis and CHC.
The joint venture between Tata Advanced Systems and Sikorsky has delivered its first fully indigenous S-92 cabin. The Indian operation is now not only assembling cabins but also producing more than 5,000 associated precision components. At the Hyderabad factory, the capacity has reached four S-92 cabins per month and the 50th was produced in October.
PHI flew the first operational automated “rig approach” to a platform in the Gulf of Mexico in a Sikorsky S-92 on November 14. Sikorsky and PHI developed the system to reduce pilot workload and the FAA approved its functionality earlier this year. The system is expected to be offered on the Sikorsky S-76D as well.
Offshore oil-and-gas helicopter operator PHI recently conducted the first operational flights of a Sikorsky S-92 equipped with the new “rig approach” automated system, the U.S.-based rotorcraft manufacturer has announced. Earlier this year, Sikorsky and PHI pilots flew two FAA demonstration operations to oil rigs off the coast of Louisiana.
The AgustaWestland AW101 won Norway’s competition for a new search-and-rescue (SAR) helicopter. The win could be worth more than €1 billion if Norway buys 16 aircraft as planned and exercises options for another six. The AW101s will replace Sea Kings provided by Westland in the 1970s.