Utilized worldwide in some of the most challenging conditions, the deployed fleet of Airbus Helicopters rotorcraft in service for the oil and gas industry has accumulated more than 10 million flight hours as of the end of 2014.
The milestone marks a new achievement in the 50-plus year history of heli-lift duties performed by Airbus Helicopters’ product line. Operations began with the Alouette during the 1960s and continued with rotorcraft in the Super Puma, Dauphin and Ecureuil families. The reliable BO105 and Puma contributed, as did representatives from Airbus Helicopters’ EC135, EC145, and EC120 among others. Airbus Helicopters’ new-generation EC175 is also now a part of the oil and gas global fleet, as it began operations in the North Sea following the first delivery to NHV last December.
“Airbus Helicopters is proud to be an important part of the oil and gas sector’s development around the globe, and we are committed to continuing this relationship with capable aircraft that are backed by our company’s dedication to safety, reliability and efficiency,” said Christopher Grainger, Airbus Helicopters’ Vice President – Oil and Gas.
Of the estimated 2,300 rotorcraft used in oil and gas missions today, approximately 25 percent are produced by Airbus Helicopters. The leading geographic region is in the Americas, where the company’s helicopters have accumulated more than 4.12 million flight hours, followed by Europe (3.27 million flight hours), Asia (over 1.82 million flight hours), Africa (more than 557,000 flight hours) and Oceania (216,000 flight hours).
In addition to such established oil and gas zones as the North Sea and Gulf of Mexico, Airbus Helicopters’ product line is increasingly utilized by operators in the evolving energy sector regions that range from China and Myanmar to Africa. Airbus Helicopters supports its international operator base by strategically locating resources that include spare parts centers, training facilities with full-flight simulators, as well as technical and safety representatives.
Airbus Helicopters’ leading rotorcraft for these operations is the workhorse Super Puma family, which accounts for approximately 2,785,000 of the total flight hours. The 11-ton-class EC225 has been further developed to meet users’ evolving requirements – especially the increasing distances involved for oil and gas transport missions. Among the enhancements are increased payload, additional fuel tank capacity, new cabin layouts for improved passenger comfort and new avionics to significantly increase pilots’ situational awareness while reducing workload. The EC225e, expected for certification and delivery in 2016, is poised to become the new asset for Oil & Gas operators. It will meet the evolving expectations of customers in the industry offering an even more cost effective aircraft that can also perform a 300-NM radius of action with a new seating layout.
A new era in heli-lift services has begun with the first delivery of Airbus Helicopters’ EC175. The 7-ton-class rotorcraft has been certified to the latest airworthiness standards, covering both the
helicopter and its new Helionix® avionics suite. The helicopter’s radius-of-action in an oil and gas mission configuration enables 16 passengers to be transported to offshore rigs at distances of 140 nautical miles (NM.) on crew change flights, extending to nearly 200 NM. when 12 passengers are carried.
The light twin-engine EC145 T2 – evolved from Airbus Helicopters’ BK117/EC145 family with the latest state-of-the-art technology – is poised to meet the demands of missions requiring shorter range both onshore and offshore, and the first helicopters in this version were delivered in July 2014. Capable of seating up to 10-11 persons, the EC145 T2’s oil and gas version will be ready for service in 2015.
Also proven in oil and gas duties around the globe are Airbus Helicopters’ Dauphin family of medium-weight rotorcraft, and its Ecureuil series in both the single- and twin-engine configurations.