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    HOUSTON, TX--(Marketwired - Jan 24, 2014)

    Era Group Inc. (
    NYSE: ERA) (Era) is pleased to announce its Search and Rescue (SAR) Program ("EraSAR"), operating in the Gulf of Mexico, has reached its 500 mission milestone. Since the initial implementation in August 2010, the program has experienced continuous growth supporting a primary membership group consisting of its initial customer, Anadarko, followed by several other oil and gas companies, including, among others, Shell Oil, Fieldwood Energy (formerly Apache), and Statoil. To date, more than 60 oil and gas and energy service companies have utilized this service. Annual mission completions have grown on an average of 28% per year, averaging 21 missions per month.

    "It's been great to see the program grow and expand throughout the years. It's only due to the collaboration of the oil and gas companies and the hard work and professionalism of the crews that make this possible. We never wish that anyone should need to use the service, but they all sleep better at night knowing that we are available and ready should they need us," said Paul White, Era Senior Vice President, Domestic.

    Over 300,000 people support the Gulf of Mexico oilfield to operate over 3,400 oil and gas facilities. Since 2007, federal regulators report that there have been 40 fatalities, 790 fires/explosions and 1,887 injuries. With this type of volume, oil and gas companies have turned to commercial aviation operators to address emergency response needs. As a result, the EraSAR/Priority 1 Air Rescue (P1AR) team was born.

    "As we see additional SAR opportunities both here and abroad," said Sten Gustafson, Era's Chief Executive Officer, "we have chosen to elevate our emphasis on developing these opportunities by creating a focused SAR service line." This SAR service line will be led by Director of SAR, Earl Hitzman, Jr., who joined Era as a SAR pilot in 2012 following a 22-year career serving our country in the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force. While in the Air Force, Hitzman served in the illustrious US Air Force Combat Rescue unit, where he was involved in complex combat rescue operations in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The EraSAR/P1AR team, based on the Gulf coast of Louisiana and Texas, is comprised of four EMD-certified medical dispatchers, 16 IFR, NVG, air ambulance, and hoist-qualified pilots, and 36 medically-qualified rescue specialists, including paramedics, hoist system operators, and rescue swimmers. Operating three SAR-configured AW139 Air Ambulances in support of the offshore oil and gas industry, the team specializes in providing long-range advanced life support and SAR services anywhere within the Gulf of Mexico, day or night. Adding to the aircraft's basic SAR capabilities are enhancements to include a Goodrich dual hoist system, night vision, integrated auto hover with search pattern modes, Nightsun and Forward Looking Infrared Imaging System (FLIR).

  • #2
    INAER wins 139 contract with Enagás

    INAER Spain (INAER), a leading provider of aerial emergency services, has been awarded a one-year contract to transport personnel, goods and supplies to the Gaviota underground gas storage platform, operated by Enagás. The company will operate an AgustaWestland AW139 helicopter, which can accommodate 15 passengers, and will schedule flights for crew changes on the platform, which is located 8km from the Cabo Matxitxako in Bermeo.

    The Gaviota underground storage platform is a strategic natural gas reserve capable of holding more than 9.8 million cubic metres of gas and helps meet Spain’s energy requirements. “We are very pleased to be working with Enagás, who play an important role in the Spanish energy sector” said Manuel López Aguilar, CEO of INAER. “This new contract perfectly complements our extensive experience providing services to the oil and gas industry.”

    INAER has been providing support services to the energy industry since 1972, making it one of the most experienced companies in Spain in this type of operation. Companies such as Repsol YPF and Escal UGS have entrusted the transport of passengers, supplies and materials to INAER, an international operator which meets all HSE (Health, Safety and Environment) and QA (Quality Assurance) standards. In 2012 alone, INAER helicopters transported 9,952 passengers.


    • #3
      Malaysia's Weststar wins offshore contract in Thailand

      UALA LUMPUR, Feb 4 (Bernama) -- Weststar Aviation Services Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Weststar Group, has signed a seven-year agreement worth RM2 billion with Thailand Oil and Gas company, PTT Exploration and Production, for offshore helicopter services.

      Weststar Group Managing Director Tan Sri Syed Azman Syed Ibrahim said along with its Thailand-based partner, United Offshore Aviation, the offshore operations was a big step in their efforts to strengthen the offshore global aviation industry.

      "The agreement, which marks the beginning of the first regional operations in Southeast Asia, comes with the option of a two-year extension," he said in a statement.

      Six Agusta Westland AW139 helicopters and 140 employees will be engaged in the operations in Songkhla, south Thailand.

      Weststar currently has service contracts totaling some RM6 billion and also owns the world's largest fleet of offshore helicopters.

      Newsdesk Note: It is possible that Bernama may have meant that Weststar has Malaysia's largest fleet of offshore helicopters?


      • #4
        Pilots Following the Money

        At least five pilots and engineers resign from National Helicopter Services Ltd (NHSL) in Trinidad on an annual basis because of inadequate compensation packages.

        This is according to NHSL general manager, Joshey Mahabir.

        Mahabir said pilots and engineers employed at NHSL were being paid 20 per cent less than its competitors.

        He was speaking last Friday at the launch of the S76D model aircraft into Trinidad and Tobago which was held at NHSL’s hangar at Camden Road, Couva.

        “We would have lost every year five or six pilots and engineers. We pay for training and try to bond them for a certain period but after that salary becomes important,” he said.

        Transport Minister Stephen Cadiz, Energy Minister Kevin Ramnarine and Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh attended the function.

        Mahabir said NHSL employees were unable to enjoy the luxuries of their competitors as the company operated under the office of the Chief Personnel Officer.

        “Right now it is a competitive business and we are on the low side. It is not about attracting staff, but retaining qualified staff. After we train you and we give you all the training we don’t want you to leave us. We invest a lot in our people and we want to keep our people so we have to find very innovative ways of doing that. But after a while it all boils down to money,” he said.
        Cadiz agreed that pilots and engineers at NHSL were providing the same services as a private entity and should enjoy competitive salaries.

        “You are operating in a very competitive environment, providing the same services as a private entity so they have to compete. And not only with the level of service, with quality of equipment, but they also have to have competitive salaries.

        “If you want the best business you have to have the best people working for you and you can’t be restricted in that way,” he said.
        Cadiz said he was an advocate for companies like NHSL to be removed from under the CPO and be allowed to negotiate on its own terms and conditions.

        Cadiz said his ministry was working on revamping the public transport system.

        He said a proper transit policy was being developed to establish connectivity across the country.


        • #5
          Atlantic Aviation commences helicopter services for Shell Nigeria

          WorldStage Newsonline-- Atlantic Aviation, aew helicopter-services operator, has begun commercial flights of Augusta Westland 139 (AW139) helicopters from Lagos. According to a statement, Atlantic Aviation, a Nigerian company owned by Jagal Group with technical service support from CHC Helicopter, started crew-rotation flights for Shell from Murtala Muhammed International Airport to the Deepwater Discovery drill ship.

          Atlantic Aviation Nigeria commencing AW139 operations in partnership with CHC

          On its maiden commercial flight, Atlantic Aviation transported nine Transocean employees to the waters around the Shell Bonga concession. The Deepwater Discovery is a fast drilling ship that is boring some 80 holes in a relatively short amount of time in the Gulf of Guinea.

          Shaf Syed, regional director Atlantic Aviation said the first flights were significant: “These flights are only the first of what we expect will be many years of helping oil and gas operators to go further, do more and come home safely in Nigeria, one of the world’s fastest growing regions for this industry. “Today represents a culmination of several months of planning and hard work from many people, to establish and demonstrate Atlantic Aviation. In line with the Governments’ strategic agenda on investment, job creation and Nigerian Content Development, Atlantic Aviation is investing in delivering to Nigeria world class standards through quality and excellence.

          Shaf said that with technical service support from CHC for training, flight and engineering standards, Atlantic Aviation will become “the leading helicopter operator in this market. “Customers will feel reassured by the depth of experience and expertise that we bring to this sector in Nigeria," he said.

          The twin-engine, medium-sized AW139 helicopter is well suited to current and future requirements of Nigerian offshore drilling, having the range and capability to operate into the deep water and frontier drilling ultra-deep water fields. The AW139 aircraft is a new technology helicopter that meets all the latest offshore safety requirements whilst bringing enhanced customer comfort to the offshore traveller.

          With all the regulatory approvals now in place, Atlantic Aviation intends to ramp-up its operations and introduce more helicopters into the under-served Nigeria market, with additional AW139 helicopters joining the fleet over the coming months.

          Atlantic Aviation has established bases with efficient facilities and hangars in Lagos (able to operate out of both Snake Island and international airport) and Port Harcourt, where further investment is being made to develop a state-of-the-art operational hub. The company is able to serve customers on long-term contracts and for hourly charter work.


          • #6
            Two 139's for Indonesian Operator Travira

            AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, is pleased to announce that Travira Air is to take delivery of two AW139 twin intermediate helicopters. The helicopters will soon enter service for offshore passenger transport operations in Indonesia.

            Vincenzo Alaimo, Head of Regional Sales SE Asia, AgustaWestland, said “I am delighted to know these helicopters will soon enter service with Travira Air who has a long and successful history of providing onshore and offshore helicopter services to its many clients in Indonesia. The AW139 provides the latest safety features, unrivalled performance and exceptional comfort which will be greatly appreciated by all those that fly in the aircraft.”

            The AW139 has achieved great success in South East Asia in recent years with orders placed by local operators for offshore, corporate, firefighting, EMS/SAR and coastal patrol missions. State-of-the-art technology, outstanding performance, low operating costs and the only helicopter in its class to meet the latest safety standards, have made the AW139 the helicopter of choice in the medium twin market. With its power reserve, the AW139 delivers Category A (Class 1) performance from a helipad (elevated or at ground level) at maximum take-off weight with an unmatched one engine inoperative capability.

            The AW139 can carry up to 15 passengers in its spacious cabin. Over 750 AW139s have now been ordered by customers around the world with more than 620 now in service.


            • #7
              Flight Safety Foundation Expands Aviation Risk Audit Program to Offshore Helicopter Operators

              The Flight Safety Foundation (FSF) is highlighting its Basic Aviation Risk Standard (BARS) audit program to rotorcraft operators here at Heli-Expo 2014. It was developed to establish a common safety audit standard that could be applied to “on-shore resource sector aviation support activities.”

              In response to feedback during last year’s Heli-Expo, the foundation is looking to include offshore operators. According to FSF managing director Greg Marshall, the BARS audit and training program, initially created for use in the natural resource sector, can enhance additional categories of rotorcraft operations, especially emergency medical service, industrial, charter and sightseeing.

              The standard was developed from a risk-based model framed against the actual threats posed. Key components of BARS include courses for onshore and offshore personnel, as well as one about helicopter external load operations for ground personnel. Overall, BARS provides a consistent audit model that allows member companies to share in the audits of participating operators. Findings from BARS audits, especially for aviation operations in remote areas, is already benefitting a much wider community of fixed- and rotary-wing operators, FSF said. Operators interested in the program can contact Marshall at

              To date, 25 organizations–including Bristow Helicopters, PHI and EcoCopter–are BARS-registered operators. Marshall said three more operators will soon be added to these ranks.


              • #8
                S-76D First Revenue Flight


                • #9
                  Bell delivers two 412EPs to Petroleum Air Services

                  Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. company (NYSE: TXT), announced today the delivery of two Bell 412EP helicopters to Egypt’s Petroleum Air Services (PAS), both configured and fully equipped to meet oil and gas producers requirements (OGP) recommended by the leading international oil companies working in Egypt.

                  Based in Cairo, PAS specializes in offering oil industry support services to some of the world’s largest petroleum companies, as well as commercial passenger services. Committed to ensuring the highest standard of quality and safety along with the latest advanced technology in the aviation business, PAS reached out to Bell Helicopter when ready to increase its fleet.

                  “We value the customer support and services we’ve received from Bell Helicopter over these 32 years and wanted to make sure we continued to invest in Bell products,” said Petroleum Air Services Chairman and Managing Director Gen. Yehia Hussein. “We look forward to continuing this relationship in the years to come.”

                  PAS and Bell Helicopter have enjoyed a long relationship since 1982, when PAS received its first two Bell 206s. Since then, the company has added 31 Bell helicopters, including the eight Bell 206s, 10 Bell 212s and 15 Bell 412s.

                  “The Bell 412EP remains a daily workhorse for Petroleum Air Services and operators around the world,” said Steve Suttles, Bell Helicopter’s vice president for Middle East and Africa. “Excellent hot and high performance and multi-mission flexibility, combined with Bell’s recognition by the industry as the leader in customer service, make the 412EP an easy choice for serious operators.”


                  • #10
                    AW189 starts demo tour among US Oil & Gas operators on the Gulf of Mexico

                    AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, is pleased to announce that the new generation medium twin helicopter AW189 will depart for a demo tour among US Oil & Gas operators in the Gulf of Mexico region, from March 4th to the 7th.

                    After been showcased at Heli Expo in Anaheim, California and a few days after the issuing with type certification by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the AW189 will demonstrate its outstanding capabilities to major companies in Texas and Lousiana.

                    The AW189 was designed in response to the growing market demand for a versatile, affordable, multirole medium twin engine helicopter. The new 8.3 tonne AW189 is optimized for long range offshore transport and SAR missions and has already received orders for 130 helicopters, including options and framework contracts, making it the outright market leader in its class. Customers in the OGP market include many of the world’s leading large fleet operators such as Bristow Group, Era Group, Gulf Helicopters and Weststar Aviation Services. Additionally major helicopter leasing companies such as Lease Corporation International, Milestone Aviation Group and Waypoint Leasing have signed agreements for AW189 helicopters.


                    • #11
                      Weststar in Morocco

                      Malaysian based Weststar Aviation continues their international expansion with operations just starting in Morroco. This country represents their third country and the first outside their Far East home region.

                      Weststar Aviation have leased in two AW139s from AgustaWestland, with one either bought back or leased in from CHC and being flown in their basic colours. The second aircraft has more recently been in the manufacturer's training fleet. Both are operating on the French register.

                      The two helicopters are based at Agadir, and operating for Kosmos Energy. Weststar declined to state in an email response to how long the contract was for. Kosmos has extensive drilling rights of approximately 22,000 square miles in the Atlantic off Morocco.


                      • #12
                        'Bears' Boycott Flight

                        Flights to and from the Hibernia Platform were cancelled yesterday due to weather conditions, after offshore workers (sometimes known as 'bears') refused to board a scheduled helicopter flight for the offshore yesterday morning. HMDC confirms that a helicopter flight scheduled to leave yesterday for the Hibernia Platform did not depart because of concerns raised by workers. The workers were concerned about high sea states, caused by the remnants of a huge storm that roared through the area, bringing with it hurricane-force winds.

                        The Hibernia platform

                        A spokesperson from HMDC says safety is their first priority and flights to and from the Hibernia Platform are conducted according to established protocols and systems, including the assessment of sea states around the platform. The company says individuals do have a right to refuse work that they feel is unsafe.


                        • #13
                          CHC boss calls for real-time helicopter data monitoring

                          Helicopter manufacturers must develop and introduce real-time in-flight data monitoring systems on their aircraft if the industry is to make sustained improvements in safety.

                          Speaking at the annual CHC Safety and Quality Summit in Vancouver on 31 March, Bill Amelio, chief executive of CHC Helicopter, said that "manufacturers must play a key part in advancing flight safety".

                          "They must take huge steps forward in developing and introducing advanced flight data monitoring," he says. This must be available "on demand, in real-time including in-flight", he says, similar to the wealth of safety data transmitted by Formula 1 cars back to their teams.

                          He additionally calls for better better "tools and technology" to analyse the vast quantities of flight data helicopters already generate.

                          Although noting that the offshore transportation sector has made "tremendous advances" in safety in recent years, Amelio says that "even one accident is one accident too many" and points to the five serious incidents that have occurred in the North Sea over the last four years, two of which involved CHC-operated helicopters.

                          "I perceive that some people within our industry think that commercial helicopter services are as safe as they are ever going to be. It's a mindset that causes us to overlook the reality of our reality," he says.

                          However, Amelio says he is "proud" the industry has taken "a big step" through the establishment of the joint operator review (JOR) in the wake of the fatal 22 August 2013 crash involving one of the company's Airbus Helicopters AS332 L2s.

                          The JOR – which is principally being driven by CHC, Bristow Group and Avinics – aims to standardise and share best practice throughout the industry, including with unions, customers and other interested parties.

                          It will lead to "sustained gains around the world in rotary-wing safety", says Amelio.


                          • #14
                            Bristow's Nigeria Facility Up in Flames

                            Bristow Helicopters, a major oil and gas offshore service provider, recently lost a Super Puma helicopter worth $18 million (N3 billion) and a hangar facility to fire at the Nigeria Air Force Base in Port Harcourt.

                            THISDAY learnt that the fire wreaked so much havoc at the facility because of the inability of the company to put it off in time and by the time it did, the Super Puma helicopter had already been destroyed while another was severely damaged.

                            Inside source told THISDAY that when the people on ground noticed the fire, they wanted to gain entry into the hangar but the person in charge of the keys to the hangar was away. Eventually when they forced their way into the hangar, the fire had already destroyed spread round the place.

                            The company’s in-house firefighting equipment could not put out the fire and the services of Shell was sought but response was late in coming. However, the Rivers State Fire Service came and put out the fire after much destruction has taken place.

                            An aviator who witnessed the incident said that it was surprising that the company did not have sufficient firefighting equipment at the facility to put off the fire immediately it started , noting that such equipment is a major criterion in a facility like that and it is the major requirement for safety audit in such operational hangar.
                            Acknowledging the incident, Bristow said that at about 2300 (11 pm local time) hours on the night of the 20th of March 2014, a fire was reported in one of its hangars at its Port Harcourt Nigerian Air Force (NAF) base facility.

                            “The fire is believed to have started from one of the stores housing aircraft spares and consumables. The fire was put out by the joint effort of the NAF fire service and the Rivers State fire service and other aircraft operators at the base. There was extensive damage to the store and its contents. In addition, two helicopters affected by the fire will be repaired soon.”

                            The company also said investigations had confirmed the source of the fire to be from an air-conditioner; disclosing that the CCTV cameras installed within the premises recorded the start and spread of the fire.

                            “Our insurers and agents of the aircraft manufacturer have visited the NAF base to assess the damage to the facility and the aircraft. The hangar, which was constructed last year and recently extended, had modern fire protection; detection and extinguishing systems. The systems worked as designed and also alerted the night security staff to the fire,” the company said.
                            Bristow said that it is committed to safety and has been operating safe operation in Nigeria for a very long time.

                            “We use this medium to reiterate to our clients, the authorities and the general public our commitment to safety. We also wish to state that no life was lost and there has been minimal disruption to our operations in Port Harcourt as a result of this incident. Our gratitude goes to all parties that assisted in helping to fight the fire, their intervention helped prevent the fire from causing further damage,” the company also said.


                            • #15
                              CHC Looking to Gulf of Mexico for New Business

                              Newly listed CHC Group Ltd , which provides helicopter services to offshore oil and gas sites, intends to enter the Gulf of Mexico as drillers venture further into deep and ultra-deep waters, its chief executive told Reuters.

                              The company, which operates about 240 aircraft in roughly 30 countries around the world, will enter the U.S. Gulf by either applying for an air operator certificate or through an acquisition, William Amelio said in an interview on Tuesday.

                              "It is clear that the Gulf of Mexico is a great opportunity and we will be there shortly," he said.

                              Recent technological advances and new discoveries are spurring renewed interest in the Gulf of Mexico, where activity tapered off following the Macondo oil spill in 2010.

                              Amelio estimated it would take about 18 months for the CHC Group to enter the U.S. Gulf "organically."

                              CHC Group, whose majority shareholder is private-equity firm First Reserve Corp, also offers search-and-rescue operations and helicopter maintenance services.

                              CHC Group shares closed at $7.24 on the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday, valuing the company at about $561 million. The shares have slipped roughly 26 percent since their January debut.


                              • #16
                                Offshore Flights Boost Norwich Airport Movements by 19%

                                The 2014 financial year has ended on a high for Norwich International Airport with final passenger numbers reaching over 465,000, an increase of 10% on the previous year.

                                Such a positive rise is attributed to growth in several sectors. The biggest increase was seen in holiday traffic, driven by Thomson/First Choice who doubled their summer 2013 activity boosting holiday charter passengers by almost 47%. Thus over 108,000 people enjoyed the benefits of flying to the sun from their local airport in the year.

                                The booming offshore industry contributed 19% growth in offshore helicopter traffic which accounted for over 100,000 helicopter passengers using the airport in the year. This cements Norwich as the busiest Airport for offshore helicopter passengers in the UK after Aberdeen.

                                KLM’s hub feeder service to the award winning Amsterdam Schiphol Airport had another strong year as a result of the addition of the fourth daily flight throughout summer 2013 which saw passenger numbers grow by 10% on this route. The fourth daily flight has already been reintroduced for this summer and forward bookings are looking very strong.


                                • #17
                                  Saudi Aramco Signs for Additional AW139

                                  AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, is pleased to announce that Saudi Aramco has placed an order for an AW139 intermediate twin aircraft, further expanding its fleet of AW139 helicopters and confirming its confidence in the best selling model in its category. This latest AW139 will be used to perform offshore and VIP transport operations in Saudi Arabia.


                                  • #18
                                    AgustaWestland and Heliconia Aero Solutions Sign Distributorship Agreement for Morocco

                                    AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company, and Heliconia Aero Solutions, the flagship Company of Heliconia Group in Morocco, are pleased to announce the signing of a Distributorship Agreement for AgustaWestland helicopters models in Morocco.

                                    Both companies are also pleased to announce that Heliconia has placed a first order for two AW139 intermediate twin helicopters, plus a number of options, to perform offshore transport missions in Morocco. Pending delivery of the two helicopters, set for June/July this year, Heliconia has meanwhile started its offshore transportation missions with two AW139s leased from Agusta Westland since end February 2014. The dual announcement was made during the Marrakesh Air Show today.


                                    • #19
                                      Offshore Market Expected to Remain Buoyant

                                      Douglas Westwood’s (DW) new World Offshore Oil & Gas Helicopter Market Report forecasts that US$ 24 billion will be spent on offshore helicopter services between 2014 and 2018. This represents a 57% increase over the preceding five-year period.

                                      Report editor, Frank Wright, commented: “Long-term production support contracts in Western Europe continue to underpin the market, but we expect faster growth rates to be experienced in Africa, Asia, Australasia and Latin America over the forecast period. A preference for local providers in many of these markets means that regional specialists dominate and the major helicopter operators have lower levels of participation, with the notable exceptions of Brazil and Australia.

                                      “On a global basis the medium-type helicopter class accounts for close to 60% of total offshore helicopter service expenditure. Western Europe and Australasia are exceptions, as buyers in these markets favour larger helicopters with increased range and carrying capacity.

                                      “The next five years will be a critical time for the industry as a new generation of medium-class helicopters are introduced. These models are highly efficient with the most advanced safety systems and are expected to perform well in the offshore arena. However, due to the natural conservatism in the industry, it will take time before a critical mass of orders is achieved.”


                                      • #20
                                        Motion Compensated Helideck Eases Offshore Landings

                                        Two Netherlands companies are using this week's OTC event in Houston to unveil a solution that increases the window for offshore helicopter landings in severe weather conditions.

                                        Bayards Aluminium of Nieuw-Lekkerland has teamed with Barge Master of Capelle an der IJssel to design the first aluminum Motion Compensated Helideck.

                                        ​The motion compensated helideck

                                        The new Motion Compensated Helideck (MCH) is driven by three actuators compensating two translations (sway and heave) and one rotation (roll) of the vessel on which it is installed.

                                        This ensures that the platform stays in an earth-fixed steady position and that the influence of sea induced vessel motions will no longer be a limiting factor for offshore operations.


                                        • #21
                                          Angola's SonAir Takes Delivery of New EC225

                                          A handover ceremony on 5th May 2014 in Marignane, France has marked the delivery of another EC225 for Angola's SonAir who already operate eleven EC225s, four AS332 L2s and three AS365 N3s.

                                          As a subsidiary of the Sonangol Group (a structured aviation service provider in Angola, and the largest African helicopter operator) SonAir will utilize the newly-delivered EC225 in oil and gas transport duties with an existing customer.

                                          SonAir is in the process of adding five additional EC225s to its inventory, three of which will be leased from Milestone Aviation Group, while two others will be owned outright by SonAir, permitting the company to initiate heli-lift business with three new partners and two existing customers.

                                          “The expansion of SonAir’s EC225 fleet underscores their confidence in this powerful helicopter for highly-demanding missions,” said Airbus Helicopters CEO Guillaume Faury. “It reinforces our long term relationship and our commitment to fully support their growing activity in Africa.”

                                          Joining today’s EC225 delivery ceremony were executives that included SonAir CEO João Andrade.

                                          “By growing our fleet, SonAir will benefit from the EC225’s performance, range and power,” Andrade explained. “We look forward to continuing to serve our customers with one of the best aircraft in oil and gas helicopter transportation.”


                                          • #22
                                            CHC Wins New S-92 Contract

                                            Norway-based oil-and-gas company Statoil has awarded CHC Helicopters Canada Inc. a contract to provide helicopter transportation to Statoil's new exploration rig in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Newfoundland. The 18-month contract calls for CHC to operate two Sikorsky S-92 aircraft on behalf of Statoil.

                                            The helicopters will fly between St. John's, Newfoundland (where CHC are establishing a base) and Statoil's West Hercules rig. The service is anticipated to begin in the fall of 2014.

                                            The West Hercules rig

                                            Statoil and CHC have extensive experience working together in the North Sea, knowledge which CHC will employ in meeting Statoil's requirements off Newfoundland, where weather and sea conditions are similar.


                                            • #23
                                              New Deliveries for Omni Taxi Aéreo

                                              The Synergy Group will deliver four AW139 and four S-76 helicopters to Portugal-based Omni Helicopters International (OHI) for lease to Petroleo Brasileiro. The helicopters will become part of the fleet operated by the Brazilian affiliate of OHI, Omni Taxi Aéreo (OTA).

                                              The new aircraft will join OTA’s existing fleet of 10 AW139 and 11 S-76 helicopters. They will be based at Brazil’s offshore heliports of Jacarepaguá and Macaé.

                                              OHI is a Lisbon-based financial holding company engaged in fleet management and investment in helicopter operators providing transportation services to the offshore energy sector. Its helicopter fleet is operated mainly by OTA in Brazil. OHI’s investment was supported by Stirling Square Capital Partners and affiliated co-investors.

                                              New S-76's and AW139's will wing their way to Omni Taxi Aéreo​ in Brazil

                                              Rui de Almeida, executive chairman and co-founder of OHI and OTA, said: ‘We are pleased to have made such a significant acquisition: it represents a natural consolidation step for OTA’s activities in Brazil and asset build-up is a critical component of OHI’s strategic development. The OHI team led by Richard Burman will be working closely with Roberto Coimbra, CEO of OTA, and his management team, to integrate the eight aircraft into the existing OTA fleet smoothly, so as to provide Petrobras with the high-quality, safe and reliable service it requires.’

                                              Gregorio Napoleone, partner, Stirling Square, added: ‘We support the transformational change underway at OHI and OTA. This management team has maintained an excellent operating record in Brazil, as its managed fleet of helicopters has grown in size and diversity. The acquisition consolidates OTA as the largest operator of AW-139 helicopters in Brazil’s offshore energy sector at a time when the medium segment has reached maturity and the heavy segment anticipates above-average growth on the back of pre-salt developments.’



                                              • #24
                                                Babcock Concludes Avincis Acquisition

                                                Babcock International Group has completed the acquisition of Avincis, a provider of helicopter and fixed wing services in mission critical operations such as medical, search and rescue, fire-fighting and civil protection in Europe.

                                                It is also a leading supplier of critical offshore crew-change helicopter services to the oil and gas industry in the UK sector of the North Sea, with an ambition to expand its operations in the growing Norwegian and Australian offshore oil and gas markets.

                                                Babcock considers that the acquisition of Avincis will create a strong platform for future growth.

                                                Peter Rogers, its chief executive, said: "The acquisition of Avincis meets Babcock's strategic objectives as it brings into the Babcock Group a market-leading business, delivering mission critical services and complex engineering support to blue-chip customers in multiple geographies.

                                                "Avincis already has a strong growth platform and its combination with Babcock will generate even greater expansion opportunities and value creation for Babcock's shareholders."


                                                • #25
                                                  Offshore Future Looks Strong

                                                  * Barclays says oil and gas sector needs 300 helicopters over next five years

                                                  * Shares of Bristow, Era have room to grow - StarMine data, analysts

                                                  * Big oil spending cuts have depressed shares of helicopter operators

                                                  * Oil companies spending more on search-and-rescue

                                                  June 3 - A pickup in offshore drilling is swelling the orderbooks of the handful of helicopter operators that shuttle oil workers to and from remote rigs. Their stock prices, depressed after Big Oil's recent spending cuts, could also be readying for take-off.

                                                  Bristow Group Inc plans to invest $1 billion this year to procure just some of the 300 new helicopters that Barclays estimates will be needed by the oil and gas industry over the next five years.

                                                  "We will invest more in this one year than in the last two-and-a-half years combined," said Jonathan Baliff, the chief financial officer of Bristow who will take over as CEO on July 31.

                                                  "To invest a third of our market capitalization in one year is one way of saying we are optimistic of the future."

                                                  With a market value of $2.7 billion, Houston-based Bristow is the largest of the niche group of companies that supply helicopters to the oil and gas industry and, increasingly, for search-and-rescue missions.

                                                  As oil majors such as Exxon Mobil Corp and Royal Dutch Shell have announced spending cuts after years of double-digit percentage growth, investor appetite for auxiliary services has waned.

                                                  Bristow's stock has fallen 6 percent in the last six months. Shares of Era Group Inc, a competitor, have fallen 11 percent, while CHC Group Ltd has lost over a quarter of its value since its shares were floated in New York in January.

                                                  But these dips could make the stocks a shrewd buy, Thomson Reuters data shows. Analysts point to renewed appetite for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, West Africa and the North Sea after a lull that followed the Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010.

                                                  Bristow should be trading at $94.77, a 25 percent premium to Monday's close of $75.54, according to StarMine's Intrinsic Valuation model, which takes analysts' five-year estimates and models the growth trajectory over a longer period of time.

                                                  Anthony Walker, a vice-president at Ariel Investments, said Bristow's geographic reach and focus on deepwater drilling made the company "disproportionately" poised to benefit from the delivery of offshore rigs in the next three to five years.

                                                  Ariel, a Chicago-based investment firm, owns 9 percent of Bristow, making it one of the company's largest shareholders.

                                                  Technological advances are making offshore drilling more cost-efficient, reversing a decline in production and potentially rivaling shale hot spots such as Texas's Eagle Ford formation in terms of growth.

                                                  Gulf of Mexico oil production, which has fallen for four consecutive years, is expected to increase by 150,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2014 and by an additional 240,000 bpd in 2015, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

                                                  "A lot of the expected growth in global oil production over the next 10 to 20 years is expected to come from deepwater," said James West, oil services and drilling analyst at Barclays.

                                                  BIGGER FLEETS

                                                  Barclays forecasts a 6 percent rise in global oil and gas exploration and production spending this year. By 2016, it expects about 300 deepwater rigs to be in operation worldwide, 25 percent more than today.

                                                  Bristow's $1 billion investment this year, about triple its usual budget, will go toward the procurement of 47 helicopters, enough to boost the size of its fleet by 17 percent.

                                                  Derek Maupin, analyst at investment advisory Hodges Capital Management, which holds Bristow shares, said higher demand for helicopters was not contingent on more exploration. Existing production rigs would supply most of the revenue for Bristow, he said.

                                                  Helicopter operators are also winning business in the search-and-rescue field, picking up contracts as governments cut their coastguard budgets. Bristow, for example, last year won a 1.6 billion-pound ($2.7 billion) contract to run Britain's search-and-rescue helicopter services for a decade from 2015.

                                                  "We are seeing more and more interest, with oil and gas operators actually putting search-and-rescue portions into crew shuttling contracts," CHC Group CEO William Amelio told Reuters.

                                                  CHC has ordered 33 new helicopters and Era 20 from companies such as United Technologies Corp unit Sikorsky Aircraft, UK's AgustaWestland NV and Eurocopter. The orders will increase their fleets by 14 percent and 12 percent respectively.

                                                  Of nine analysts that cover both Bristow and CHC, most have a "buy" rating on both stocks and none recommend selling either, according to Thomson Reuters. All three analysts covering Era have a "buy" or higher rating on the stock.


                                                  • #26
                                                    Offshore Market Forecast

                                                    Douglas-Westwood (DW) forecasts $24 billion in expenditure on offshore helicopter services between 2014 and 2018, a 57% increase in comparison to the preceding five-year period. Western Europe will continue to account for the largest share of global expenditure, driven by both the extensive North Sea infrastructure and the preference towards using large helicopters.

                                                    An Era AW139

                                                    Although Western Europe will continue to underpin the market over the forecast period, DW expect faster growth rates in Africa, Asia, Australasia and Latin America. A preference for local providers in some of these markets means that there are many regional specialists. As a consequence, the major helicopter operators have lower levels of participa- tion in these regions, with the notable exceptions of Brazil and Australia.

                                                    A major driver for growth in the offshore helicopter services market is the field development lifecycle. In the drilling phase, helicopter requirements are short-term requiring flexibility from the helicopter operator. In the production phase, long-term crew transfer support is required. As production continues to ramp up, particularly in deepwater regions, the drivers for a larger fleet of modern helicopters strengthen.

                                                    On a global basis the medium-type helicopter class accounts for close to 60% of total offshore helicopter service expenditure. Western Europe and Aus tralasia are exceptions, as buyers in these markets favour larger helicopters with increased range and carrying capacity.

                                                    Bristow and CHC remain the dominant players in the global market with activities in all key operating regions. These companies are focused on securing high value, long-term production support contracts. As a consequence the mature North Sea region continues to be their core market.

                                                    The next five years will be an important time for the industry as a new generation of medium-class helicopters such as the EC175 and AW189 are in- troduced. These models are highly efficient with the most advanced safety systems and are expected to perform well in the offshore arena.

                                                    However, due to the natural conservatism in the industry, it may take time before a critical mass of orders is achieved.

                                                    The full report is available from Douglas-Westwood.


                                                    • #27

                                                      CHC to Supply SAR Puma for Shell's Australian Operations

                                                      CHC Helicopter have established a new SAR service, with support from the Royal Dutch Shell company who have committed $30 million to underpin a dedicated SAR helicopter based at Broome Airport.

                                                      Shell, which is developing the pioneering Prelude floating LNG project, is committing the funds over an 18-month period.

                                                      It will enable CHC Group to keep a helicopter and medical and engineering team on round-the-clock stand-by at Broome International Airport. Medical Rescue Air Ambulance will provide the paramedic crew.

                                                      CHC are providing a SAR Puma based at Broome Airport

                                                      The helicopter will have a travel range of 300 nautical miles from Broome.

                                                      Shell would not disclose the value of its commitment, which industry sources have put as high as $30 million. It is thought other Browse players, including Woodside Petroleum and Inpex, may also sign deals with CHC for access to the search and rescue helicopter.

                                                      "As a result of the Prelude FLNG project, our activity offshore in the region is increasing," Shell Australia chairman Andrew Smith said.

                                                      "This combined medivac and search and rescue service ensures we are ready to respond to an incident quickly.

                                                      "Both Shell and CHC see this service as a key part of the growing oil and gas industry in this region and we hope to welcome new partners to the service soon."

                                                      Although the helicopter is a reflection of the heightened oil and gas activity off the coast of Broome, Shell and CHC say the service will be available to the broader Kimberley community when not used by the industry.


                                                      • #28
                                                        The Challenges of Automation in Offshore Flying

                                                        While the modern helicopter now offers various levels of automation to aid offshore oil and gas missions, industry is still mulling the regulatory, training and operational ramifications of the technology.

                                                        At a Royal Aeronautical Society conference in London looking at the introduction of automation to offshore operations, it was clear that uncertainty lingers over the use of the technology and how it should be taken forward.

                                                        The conference was followed by a new report by the UK Transport Committee, which expressed concerns about offshore helicopter safety standards in the UK.

                                                        Mark Swan, director of safety and airspace regulation at the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority, compared the current medium/heavy helicopters in service with the offshore industry to a modern fighter jet.

                                                        ‘When you look at the modern helicopter flight deck, this is a Typhoon with a fan on the top, that’s the kind of equivalence that I would ascribe to modern helicopters,’ Swan said.

                                                        ‘The big question for us in this community is, if you accept that proposition that this is the equivalent of a modern military fighter, packed with all the goodies that allow you to do modern military fighter stuff, are we addressing the issues associated with that complexity of operation, including the training, perhaps even more complex engineering to deal with, and what does that mean in terms of moving forward in the future?’

                                                        In providing an oversight regime that covers the human factors, systems and technologies, and operational environment aspects, the CAA is placing greater focus on future risk rather than simply concentrating on compliance.

                                                        ‘That is a move that is a two-year programme – and we are about six months through it – but we want to end up being a performance-based regulator. That means focusing on risk, not on compliance – compliance still has its place – but we want to focus on risk to performance,’ Swan explained.

                                                        Steve O’Collard, chief technical pilot at CHC, noted that as oil and gas platforms moved further offshore in recent decades, advances such as GPS navigation, SATCOM, satellite navigation, and colour radar had been introduced.

                                                        ‘But, lots of things have been happening, lots of regulatory changes, lots of operational changes and it has made the pilot’s life a little bit more difficult. So we have been using more and more automation. And we’ve gone from completely manual to analogue aircraft to fully digital aircraft,’ O’Collard said.

                                                        ‘There’s lots going on behind the screens – automation, the auto-pilot – there is a lot going on there and the problem is that we don’t know in a number of cases what is going on. All we know is that we told it to do something and it seems to be doing it or in some cases it isn’t. We certainly don’t necessarily know how it is doing it.’

                                                        Simon Harlow, head of flight standards at Bond Helicopters UK, argued that the relationship between the pilot and cockpit display systems was essential to the control of the aircraft – but this was not always intuitive for a trained pilot.

                                                        ‘That’s the key thing really – the modern helicopter is more complex, so the control laws are more complex for the pilots to learn. To know how his aircraft is going to react, he needs to understand these control laws. What’s intuitive to someone who has flown a Super Puma all his life, is not necessarily going to equip him to fly the S92 – as different companies have different philosophies.’

                                                        With the modern helicopter ‘able to outfly pilots on a good day’, Harlow also questioned whether a pilot can retake control of a helicopter that is flying beyond his capability.

                                                        He added that while the latest displays were very compelling, with realistic graphics, the danger is that it will suck the pilot in and he doesn’t doubt what he is seeing when things start to go wrong.

                                                        ‘With all this information to monitor and to fly, do we actually have the capability to do it and if we do, do we train for it and do we understand what the limitations of those systems are? And I would ask, is putting more information in front of the pilot really the way forward?’

                                                        Debate also surrounds the human-machine interface (HMI), where the controls should be, and whether regulation is needed to be introduced that outlines HMI best practices.


                                                        • #29

                                                          Sikorsky Works to add Rig Approach System to S-76D

                                                          Sikorsky is working to add its automated Rig Approach system to the S-76D medium-class helicopter, following a successful introduction of the technology on the heavier S-92.

                                                          Carey Bond, president commercial systems and services at the US airframer, says: “What is good in the heavy market is good in the medium market.”

                                                          Key to the successful integration of Rig Approach is the processing power of the rotorcraft’s flight-control computers “and the one thing on the S-76D is that there is a lot of processing power”.

                                                          Sikorsky's S-76D

                                                          Sikorsky has been driving research into automated rotorcraft flight through its SARA flying test lab, which uses an S-76 airframe equipped with a suite of advanced systems, including fly-by-wire controls.

                                                          Technology derived from SARA is utilised in the Rig Approach system, which was introduced in the US with operator PHI in November 2013.

                                                          PHI will now retrofit its entire S-92 fleet with the system, says Bond, and he believes other operators will follow suit.

                                                          “I fully expect all major oil and gas operators to install it – all our big customers,” he says.

                                                          “We think about automation as the biggest change we can make to the aircraft to improve safety.”

                                                          EASA certification of the system is anticipated shortly, says Bond.

                                                          The 5.3t S-76D entered service earlier this year and the lead aircraft, which is operating in Trinidad with National Helicopter Services, has recently completed more than 500h of flight time, says Bond.


                                                          • #30

                                                            PHI Establishes Cyprus Base

                                                            A strategic agreement for the provision of helicopter support services has been signed between Cyprus Airways and PHI Air Europe Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of PHI Helicopters who are a leading provider of aviation services to the oil and gas industry.

                                                            PHI is a major offshore aviation provider

                                                            Cyprus Aiways CEO Aharon Karaoghlanian said that the agreement would provide new opportunities for the company in the rapidly expanding oil and gas sector.

                                                            PHI Senior Manager Mike Foley with Cyprus Airways Chairman Tony Antoniou​

                                                            The agreement, signed by PHI Air Europe Senior Manager Mike Foley and Cyprus Airways Chairman Tony Antoniou, includes the use of Cyprus Airways facilities and mechanics and in the future may cover areas such as personnel training, flight operations management and cargo handling.


                                                            AN: It is likely that PHI's Cyprus base will also support their operations in Israeli coastal waters.