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    New MD for British International

    RIGBY Group PLC has appointed Paul Southall as Managing Director of British International Helicopters (BIH), which has an engineering and maintenance operation at Newquay Airport.

    Formerly the Chief Operating Officer of Rigby Group’s aviation division, Mr Southall brings almost two decades of leadership experience to the role, and will be charged with driving the group’s planned growth strategy.

    Paul Southall as Managing Director of British International Helicopters

    As well as its operation at Newquay, British International Helicopters has carried out the Flag Officer Sea Training Royal Navy helicopter support programme through HMS Raleigh at Torpoint for more than a decade.

    BIH has served as the lead brand at the head of Rigby Group’s helicopter-led aviation activities since its post-acquisition reorganisation in September 2013. Pursuing the strategic goal of becoming the largest domestically owned commercial helicopter operator in the UK, the company is now preparing for a planned expansion of the group’s existing military and commercial helicopter business.

    “We intend to position BIH as the UK’s leading British onshore/offshore helicopter operator, and Paul will work closely with the existing staff to foster, develop and implement a one team approach with a clear goal of being recognised for its first class, professional and safe approach to helicopter services,” said Sir Peter Rigby, Rigby Group Chairman and founder.

    Paul Southall added: “These are exciting times for BIH and I look forward to being part of a talented, winning team. As we move forward in pursuit of our growth strategy, the emphasis will remain on delivering a great service to our existing customers who will be our best advocates and references for future business wins, while also proactively seeking out new, profitable business.

    “In an industry where safety places us on a level playing field, we have to be better than the competition in terms of service delivery and customer focus. This is the responsibility of each and every one of our employees and this culture is one I will look to cultivate in my new role. It’s a significant challenge, but one I am confident we will meet.”

  • #2

    SaxonAir Receives AOC

    Norwich based SaxonAir has announced the issue of their rotary Air Operators Certificate (AOC) which will allow the company to expand their helicopter operations into new markets with the addition of further helicopters to deal with growing demand.

    SaxonAir's Colibri G-KLNP

    SaxonAir have been operating its private jet fleet on their fixed-wing AOC for over seven years and in which time the aircraft fleet has expanded to include the growing development of private aircraft under management. SaxonAir’s rotary operations will trade under the name SaxonAir Helicopters having previously being carried out by the AOC of London Helicopter Centres.

    SaxonAir Helicopters operates leisure and business charters, pleasure flights for the tourism industry across East Anglia and the Norfolk Broads, agricultural survey contracts, aerial filming and photography, as well as specialist tasks for the energy and renewables industry.

    Anna Loake, pilot and head of ground operations says, ‘We have been operating helicopters at SaxonAir for several years now, but the addition of our own operating licence enables us to fully enhance business opportunities developing our scope and area of operations.’

    SaxonAir's Anna Loake in the company Colibri

    SaxonAir Helicopters forms part of the Klyne Aviation Group, which includes private and business jet aviation specialists SaxonAir Charter, ground handling and offshore support business SaxonAir Flight Support and the newly formed SaxonAir Aircraft Sales.​


    • #3

      Norwegian Helicopter Firm Assists in London Load-Lifting Task

      A helicopter from Norway had to be brought in this week to lift four new air conditioning chiller units onto the roof of a Thames-side office block in London.

      Specialist firm Plant Movements Ltd from Hailsham in East Sussex organised and carried out the lift in conjunction with helicopter operator HeliRig.

      It took the Super Puma helicopter less than an hour to hoist the four modular chiller units, each weighing five tonnes, into position. But planning for the operation had taken Plant Movements almost six months.

      A HeliRig Super Puma hauls an air conditioning chiller unit to the top of a Thames-side office block

      Managing director John Miller explained: “A helicopter had to be used because the site wasn’t suitable for a crane. It meant having to make arrangements with a whole host of different parties including the CAA, police, the local authority, environmental health and the estate owners. We even had to involve HMS Belfast, which is permanently moored on the Thames alongside the building, because the attraction couldn’t be open to the public while the lift was being carried out.”

      Plant Movements had a team of eight people on site for three days making preparations for the lift including laying an aluminium trackway to protect the paving.

      The new chillers had been specially designed in modular form to suit the capacity of the helicopter. Before they could be installed, the old ones had to be dismantled and removed.

      The helicopter has now returned to Norway where it is normally deployed on search and rescue duties. It will be called on again next month (October) for the second phase of the chiller replacement project when four further units will be installed.


      • #4

        PDG Awarded 7 Year Lighthouse Contract

        The General Lighthouse Authorities (GLAs) of the UK and Ireland have announced a £13million seven-year contract to PDG Helicopters for the provision of helicopter services to cover all three Authorities.

        The provision of one helicopter supplier across the GLAs is expected to deliver a saving of around £7.9million to the General Lighthouse Fund, which pays for the safety critical work of the GLAs to provide Maritime Aids to Navigation service around the coast of UK and Ireland.

        Until now each authority has contracted its own helicopter service provider and co-ordinated its own activities. The decision to award a single tri-GLA contract for helicopter services is a first for the participating authorities, who established a cross-GLA project team to manage the procurement process.

        A PDG Helicopters EC 135 Helicopter carrying out mobilisation of materials at Ardnakinna Lighthouse (County Cork) in preparation for planned lighthouse maintenance. Ardnakinna Lighthouse is owned and operated by the Commissioners of Irish Lights ​

        Helicopters have been contracted by the GLAs since the 1970's for the transportation of personnel to remote and difficult-to-access sites and for specialised operations to transport materials to and from their support vessels and lighthouses.

        PDG Helicopters is one of the UK and Ireland's leading helicopter providers. PDG operates an extensive fleet of modern aircraft and will deploy two Eurocopter EC 135 aircraft to fulfill the contract requirements.

        Headquartered in Scotland PDG has operating bases across the United Kingdom and Ireland from which it flies over 11,000 hours a year supporting a wide range of onshore and offshore markets.

        New contract

        The new seven-year contract, with an extension option for up to a further three years, will begin in December 2015 allowing existing contracts to complete and for a period of training and familiarisation.

        The projected flying hours across the GLAs will be around 1,000 per annum - the number of flying hours has reduced over recent years - in part achieved through the improved engineering of remote lights giving greater reliability and reduced maintenance burden created by the ongoing work to introduce solar power and LED lights but also through more effective and collaborative planning across the GLAs.

        Deployment of the helicopter will be co-ordinated by the three lighthouse authorities, working in collaboration.

        The GLAs will consult on PDG Helicopters work plans and align the helicopter services in the most efficient and effective manner to meet their operational requirements.

        However, by the nature of the safety critical work of the GLAs, an agreed contingency procedure will be put in place to allow the authorities to deal with any immediate or short-notice high priority tasking.

        'An essential service'

        Captain Ian McNaught, Deputy Master of Trinity House said: 'This single contract demonstrates the GLAs willingness to adapt and change working practices collaboratively in order to develop best practice and reduce operating costs.'

        Mike Bullock, Chief Executive of the Northern Lighthouse Board said: 'Helicopters provide an essential capability for the GLAs as they allow both personnel and material to be delivered to difficult to access sites in remote and often hostile environments.'

        Yvonne Shields, Chief Executive of the Commissioners of Irish Lights said: 'We are pleased to be working with PDG Helicopters.

        'Over recent years the EC 135 has already proved its capabilities by carrying out operations for two of the GLAs under separate contracts and PDG Helicopters, through its subsidiary Irish Helicopters, has successfully worked with the Commissioners of Irish Lights since the 1970's so we are aware of the service they provide and we look forward to continue working with them under the new contract.'

        At the contract signing Jerry Francis, Chief Executive of PDG Helicopters said: 'We are delighted to be awarded the GLA Helicopter Service Contract and are proud to be supporting them in the delivery of their statutory duty for the safety of the mariner.

        He added: 'The award of this contract is a natural progression from working exclusively with the Commissioners of Irish Lights and we look forward to extending this vital service across the entire United Kingdom and Ireland.'


        • #5

          Multiflight Adds Third Dauphin to Charter Fleet

          Multiflight has added a third VIP Dauphin helicopter, with capacity for up to eight passengers, to its fleet of charter helicopters.

          “We are delighted to announce the addition of a third VIP Dauphin AS365N2 helicopter to our fleet of charter aircraft,” said Steve Borrowdale, Multiflight’s Managing Director.

          G-BTNC, Multiflight's latest Dauphin helicopter

          “There continues to be a strong demand for our Dauphin helicopters and the additional AS365N2 Dauphin further strengthens our charter capacity to service our clients.”

          In addition to the Dauphin helicopters, Multiflight has its own Citation Excel Business Jet and VIP Boeing 737 aircraft, which are also available via our charter department.

          Multiflight's three Dauphins (with new arrival G-BTNC centre) in front of the company's Bradford-based hangar

          “Multiflight is a well recognised and respected name for private charter in the UK and overseas and we continually strive to offer our customers the best service available,” said Mr Borrowdale.


          • #6

            Dorset MP Invites Helicopter Business to Portland

            New plans could see Portland remain as a facility for helicopters after the closure of the coastguard search and rescue base in 2017.

            South Dorset MP Richard Drax has been working with HeliOperations – a company supplying trained helicopter personnel to companies worldwide – on a business plan for the Portland helicopter base site at Osprey Quay.

            The move could secure the future of the site as a helicopter training facility after a coastguard government contract comes to an end in 2017. The Maritime and Coastguard Agency rents the site from the Homes and Communities Agency and it will hand the site back to the HCA in 2017.

            Under the new business plan, a search and rescue presence would not be kept at the site – but it could potentially allow the site to maintain the capability to refuel helicopters.

            MP Richard Drax is inviting HeliOperations to move to Portland

            Mr Drax said this was very important as it meant any coastguard helicopters on a rescue mission would have somewhere to refuel, as well as providing skilled work opportunities for people in the area.

            The current MCA site would become the head office for HeliOperations. The company provides training for the helicopter industry, oil and gas industry, the luxury super yacht sector and search and rescue crew.

            The business plan states: “The property is ideally located and designed as an operating centre from where training for industry and military support can be provided for local and international clients.

            “The proposed HeliOperations facility will employ up to 30 people and provide opportunities for people in the area to enter this high value industry.”

            The business plan suggests a phased approach to taking over the site starting next year, taking the facility through from the search and rescue closedown in 2017, to being fully operational by 2019.

            The business plan concludes: “If Portland helicopter base were closed or put to another use, it would lose its captive career-generating capability for the people of Portland and it would in all likelihood be an irreversible decision.”

            The next stage of the plan is to have meetings with the HCA about a potential lease.

            CEO of the company Steve Gladston, who was in the Fleet Air Arm and trained at Portland on Sea King helicopters, said he was very fond of the area.

            He said he wanted people to get in touch and tell them what they thought of the plans.

            Mr Gladston said: “One of the reasons we are really keen on doing it, is we believe the people of Weymouth and Portland would support it.”



            • #7

              Heli-Lift Harvest Christmas Trees for Elveden Farms

              The UK's only commercial Bell 205 'Huey' operator recently completed a tree harvesting operation for Thetford-based Elveden Farms.

              The operation involved air lifting over 130 Norwegian spruces from the Kielder Forest in Northumberland onto a low-loader truck which then dispersed the trees to city centres across the country including London, Birmingham and Glasgow.

              Oxford-based Heli-Lift Bell 205 G-UHGB lifting Norwegian spruces out of the Kielder Forest

              Frances Fleming, marketing manager at Elveden Farms which operates the Northumberland and other sites, said: “We can’t get vehicles into this site so the easiest way is to fly them out by helicopter.”

              The spruces were flown to a nearby low-loader

              Some of the trees which were lifted were over 50ft tall. Elveden delivers more than 900 trees to towns and cities each year.




              • #8
                Eric Brown Award

                Dr. Simon Mitchell, a helicopter pilot for the past 27 years, has been awarded the British Helicopter Association’s prestigious Eric Brown Award for making the most significant contribution to the British Helicopter industry during the past year. Mitchell, also the director of Starspeed, won the award for his work on air transport safety systems, particularly within the helicopter industry.


                • #9

                  Turbomeca to Axe up to 56 Jobs in Hampshire

                  200 staff members employed at Turbomeca's UK factory in Segensworth have been warned that more than a quarter of the posts could go.

                  It comes just days after Turbomeca announced that it was closing a factory in the United States with loss of more than 100 jobs.

                  The French-owned company opened the complex in Monroe, Louisiana, in 2008 after witnessing a surge in demand for Arriel helicopter engines but says market conditions have deteriorated.

                  Turbomeca, part of the Safran Group, blames the increasingly competitive global market for the cuts.

                  Under the plan the repair of Arriel engines will be switched to overseas sites, reducing the amount of work at the Segensworth plant.

                  Last night Sean Woodward, leader of Fareham Borough Council, said: “Aerospace jobs are very valuable to the local economy.

                  “They tend to involve highly-paid, highly-skilled people and I’m very sad to hear that Turbomeca is proposing to reduce its workforce.”

                  Fareham councillor Brian Bayford added: “It’s a bit of a disaster.

                  “When I was mayor a few years ago I was given a tour of the place. It’s a very comprehensive set-up and I got the impression that they were a pretty dynamic company.”

                  Turbomeca says it has entered into detailed consultations with employees and their representatives.

                  A company spokesman confirmed that 56 full-time jobs were at risk but said those affected would be redeployed within the group “where possible”. Other employees would be given help to find jobs elsewhere.

                  “The consultation period lasts until early December but there are no plans to make any changes until the new year,” added the spokesman.

                  The company’s UK chief executive, Federic Fourciangue, said: “The review of our UK operations is being made as part of a wider, global programme to ensure we are best placed for the next stage in our development.

                  “I recognise this proposal will be unsettling for our employees but I will be doing my utmost to ensure we fully support those affected.”

                  Mark Hoban, Tory MP for Fareham, said: “I’m obviously disappointed that Turbomeca is planning to shed up to 56 jobs.

                  “I know there are job opportunities elsewhere in the group and I hope as many employees as possible will be able to take advantage of that.”

                  Mr Hoban said Fareham’s unemployment rate was only 1.5 per cent and added: “It shows there’s a lot of demand for the right skills.”

                  Stuart Dunn, chief executive of Hampshire Chamber of Commerce, described Turbomeca’s announcement as “very sad” news.

                  He added: “It underlines the competiveness that exists in that sector and how we need to support aerospace from a regional and Government perspective.”

                  Editorial Comment:
                  If Airbus' public announcements are anything to go by then one can be forgiven for wondering why these cuts are taking place. Airbus regularly boasts of steady orders and of majority market shares within key sectors of both the US and UK markets - Turbomeca are their engine suppliers - so what's going on?


                  • #10

                    New Shuttle Service to Operate between Biggin Hill and Battersea/Isle of Dogs

                    London's Biggin Hill Airport announced at MEBA 2014 the launch of the London Heli Shuttle, connecting Biggin Hill with London Heliport in Battersea. The service is being operated by Castle Air using a dedicated fleet of six-passenger AgustaWestland AW109 helicopters.

                    For £2,300 ($3,584) plus tax, including a door-to-door chauffeur car service, the heli-shuttle will whisk travelers between the two points in six minutes, saving as much as two hours per day over a round-trip transfer by ground vehicle, and offering what Biggin Hill suggests is the shortest time from touchdown into central London from any business aviation airport.

                    Castle Air will operate their AW109's in support of the new service

                    Service will also be available to and from Vanguard Helipad on the Isle of Dogs, offering easy access to Canary Wharf, the O2 arena, the ExCel exhibition center and London City Airport. With a dedicated point-of-entry and pre-approved clearances service at Biggin Hill, passengers can literally step from their arriving aircraft on to the helicopter. Castle Air’s large fleet can cater for last-minute bookings, making the service highly flexible. All three FBOs at the airfield have welcomed the addition of the helicopter service, which can be booked directly or via the FBOs.

                    “The London Heli Shuttle will enable our customers to gain more control over their time and ensures that their transit to and from London is as efficient as possible,” said Robert Walters, the Biggin Hill airport’s business development director. “We want our customers to make London Biggin Hill Airport their gateway of choice for access to and from London and the South East.”

                    Biggin Hill is seeing a growth in traffic, particularly from the United States. Middle East traffic volume remains constantly high, and some of the airport’s 65 aviation tenant companies are looking to expand their Middle East business further. Among them is the Dassault service center Jets, which is expanding and renewing approvals from Middle East authorities.

                    Following government assurance of a long-term business aviation future at Biggin Hill, and in recognition of its growth potential to handle greater traffic in the years to come, the airport is investing in developments such as GPS approaches being installed at each end of the runway, in place of the ILS that is installed at only one end. The GPS approaches are expected to be ready for operation in around 12 to 18 months.

                    In the meantime, Biggin Hill is awaiting the full outcome around the end of January of a public consultation to extend its operating hours. The airport has applied to operate from 06:30 to 23:00 on Monday to Saturday (extended from 07:30-21:00), and 08:00 to 23:00 on Sundays and public holidays (extended from 09:00-20:00). The extra hours will allow Biggin Hill to better compete for the early-morning transatlantic arrivals, and for the late-evening Middle East departures.


                    • #11

                      Change in the Offing at Bond

                      Bond Offshore Helicopters boss Luke Farajallah will leave his role next month, it was revealed yesterday.

                      A replacement has been recruited. Michelle Handforth, currently general manager of Sydney Ferries in Australia, will take over the role at the North Sea helicopter firm in April.

                      The move comes after Bond became part of engineering giant Babcock International. The helicopter group’s parent company, Avincis, was snapped up by Babcocks in a £1.6billion deal last year.

                      A spokesman said Mr Farajallah, who joined Bond in 2012, “decided to leave to pursue new opportunities and for personal reasons”.

                      The spokesman added that Ms Handforth “has extensive operational and commercial leadership experience. She is ideally placed to lead the business through its next phase of development.”

                      She has previously worked with a range of transport sector businesses including Aviva, First Choice Airways, Great Northeastern Railways.


                      • #12

                        Heli Charter Provides 206 for New DHL Parcel Service

                        DHL Express have launched a new service linking Canary Wharf with Heathrow via helicopter. This will be the first parcel service to operate in London since the 1980’s.

                        The service from Heathrow to East London’s banking district will take 20 minutes, compared with two hours by road and means that packages can be put on earlier trans-Atlantic flights allowing DHL to guarantee overnight delivery from US financial centres.

                        John Pearson, the company’s European chief executive, said DHL had received a number of requests for this service from existing customers, many of whom are in the financial industry.

                        “This is not a marketing gimmick,” he said. “Cutting the travel time from the airport translates into a full day’s saving. A document can be sent from Chicago and be in London by 2pm the next day. Mr Pearson said he expects the service will be carrying letters of credit, export bills and sales contracts. DHL said it will not charge existing clients extra for the service

                        The delivery of hard-copy documents remains important even in the age of email and the internet. “Years ago some people though the advent of the fax would be the death of the express delivery service but we’re still seeing global growth,” said Mr Pearson. “The need for real hard copies has not gone away.”

                        Mr Pearson said DHL, part of Frankfurt-listed Deutsche DHL, is preparing to launch a similar service in Chicago in the next few weeks and is considering following suit in Frankfurt and Paris.

                        Despite the potential for the weather restricting flying, DHL said it is targeting a 96-97% reliability rate for overnight delivery.

                        Heli Charter's G-SUET flying for DHL:

                        G-SUET over London (Photo: DHL)

                        Getting ready to leave Denham (Photo: Gary Slater)

                        Over the Thames (Photo: Gary Slater)

                        Vanguard's helipad in East London

                        G-SUET at Denham (Photo: Matthew Lloyd)

                        G-SUET at Denham (Photo: Gary Slater)

                        Bell 206B JetRanger II G-SUET at Denham 20th January 2015 (Photo: Brian Nichols)



                        • #13

                          Bell 212 Flies Car Over Cardiff Bay

                          Residents of Cardiff were treated to an unusual sight yesterday as a Bell 212 flew around Cardiff Bay with a car slung underneath.

                          German helicopter operator Global Helicopter Service had been recruited by car maker Nissan to fly one of their products around Cardiff Bay as part of a promotional stunt in the lead-up to the UEFA Champion’s League final which is to be held in Cardiff on 3rd June and of which Nissan is a sponsor.

                          Global Helicopter Services' Bell 212 D-HEPP as seen over Cardiff yesterday




                          • #14

                            Heli-Lift Add 212 to Fleet

                            Oxford-based Heli-Lift Services have recently added a Bell 212 to their fleet, providing an important boost in capacity to their operations. The aircraft, N362EH, offers twin-engine performance and reliability and enables the company to conduct specialist lifting operations over built-up areas.

                            Heli-Lift's latest acquisition previously flew in the UK with Bristows as G-BIGB and has served on numerous international assignments over the years. When first imported by Heli-Lift the aircraft was registered for a short time as G-UHUK but has now reverted to its former US registration.

                            Heli-Lift's new Bell 212 N362EH seen at their Oxford base (Photo: Grant Robinson)

                            Heli-Lift is gaining a growing reputation for the provision of specialist operations including those in support of forestry, agriculture, load-lifting and general utility work.




                            • #15
                              Drone Invasion Begins in the UK

                              Bristow Helicopters have registered two Scheibel Camcopter S-100s G-UASA and G-UASB.

                              Just wonder if this will only be for UAV type machines or will the CAA open the flood gates for Drones also ?

                              I have seen the amount registered and cancelled each month in the US and it looks like a complete nightmare!


                              • Savoia
                                Savoia commented
                                Editing a comment
                                Do you know if Bristow have stated what they intend to use these Camcopters for? Are they putting themselves in the market for commercial filming using these devices?