Oil & Gas
Eurocopter opens new training facility in UK
Feb. 1, 2011, Aberdeen, U.K. - Eurocopter officially inaugurated its new North Sea Service Centre in Aberdeen, Scotland today, providing a highly capable training, technical support and logistics facility in close proximity to helicopter operators who support the region’s vital oil and gas industry – as well as the emerging wind farm sector.
By Carey Fredericks
A focal point of the North Sea Service Centre is its new EC225 helicopter full-flight simulator, which underscores Eurocopter’s commitment to investing in solutions that support its customers’ businesses. It also demonstrates the company’s dedication to enhancing flight safety and reducing operators’ costs.
At today’s inauguration ceremony, a long-term training agreement was signed with CHC Helicopter for at least 800 hours of annual EC225 simulator utilisation. CHC Helicopter is one of the world’s largest helicopter services companies, and the simulator training at Eurocopter’s Aberdeen centre will host pilots from CHC’s operations worldwide.
|Tilmann Gabriel President of European Operations CHC Helicopter signs a long-term training contract with Markus Steinke, Managing Director of Eurocopter UK in Aberdeen.
Eurocopter selected Aberdeen for the new facility because of its location at the heart of UK oil and gas exploration. As the hub of North Sea helicopter offshore operations, Aberdeen is Europe’s busiest heliport, and the EC225 simulator will respond to the training needs of the hundreds of pilots based there. In anticipation of future expansion for the North Sea Service Centre, sufficient space is available to add another simulator at a later date, potentially for Eurocopter’s new EC175 helicopter.
“Our customers have been telling us they need easier access to training, notably to simulators. We have listened, and we are responding to those needs,” said Eurocopter CEO Lutz Bertling. “This strategy is in line with Eurocopter’s reinforced commitment to improving flight safety by providing simulated alternatives to real flight. We are fully dedicated to enlarging our service offer and ensuring our simulators are in the right place at the right price for Eurocopter customers, with coverage in all our key markets around the world.”
The sustained pace of North Sea helicopter activity – performed predominantly in airline-type flight operations – demand the highest availability of aircraft and aircrew, which requires quality helicopter maintenance and continuing pilot training activity for operators. Eurocopter’s new North Sea Service Centre addresses the provision of top-level support to meet both demands, literally at the users’ doorstep. With technical and logistics support offered around-the-clock, the facility meets operators’ requirements for continuous support capacity – especially as their helicopter maintenance is done systematically during night-time hours.
In addition, the facility’s repair and overhaul resources ensure fast turn-around times for complex and bulky dynamic components, such as the EC225 rotor head and mast assembly.
Jim Mather, the Scottish Minister for Enterprise, Energy and Tourism, stated: “Eurocopter’s welcome new facility will create new highly skilled jobs and a first-class training environment for helicopter pilots working in the North Sea, helping improve further the safety of our oil and gas industry.”
Currently, 100 Eurocopter helicopters are operated in the North Sea, generating more than 100,000 flight hours a year. A total of 45 are based at Aberdeen, another 11 are located at other UK bases, along with 31 across Norway. There are a further eight in the Netherlands, and five in Denmark. The Super Puma/EC225 helicopter family is the rotary-wing aircraft of choice by operators for the airlift of crews and equipment to ships and oil rigs, as well as performing offshore search and rescue missions in demanding environments.
The Aberdeen Service Centre is managed by Eurocopter’s fully-owned subsidiary, Eurocopter UK Ltd., and represents a £10Minvestment. It will be home to 10-20 highly skilled professionals, with future expansion envisaged in the context of massive wind farm operations that are developing in the North Sea.
“With the largest overall helicopter fleet in the British Isles – and providing some 80 percent of the nation’s offshore fleet – we deliver a vital contribution to the UK’s economy and its citizens every day,” explained Markus Steinke, Managing Director of Eurocopter UK. “It is our policy to serve our customers locally, and thus we have significantly expanded our onshore capabilities in the past few years. Our new Aberdeen facility will greatly enhance Eurocopter’s training, services and support offer to our customers, making their operation safer, more efficient and more eco-friendly. This new centre reinforces Eurocopter’s continued commitment to the UK.”
There are a total of 450 Eurocopter helicopters in operation with over 150 customers in the UK. They represent 70 percent of the country’s emergency medical service fleet, 75 percent of the police and law enforcement helicopter inventory, and approximately 80 percent of the offshore oil and gas fleet. Furthermore, these rotary-wing aircraft are widely used for pipeline and power line control, as well as for lighthouse maintenance and other important utility missions. One of the latest missions for Eurocopter helicopters is offshore wind farm support in the country. Additionally, 100 Eurocopter helicopters provide significant transport and training capability to the UK military forces.