Bond Aviation Group CEO Richard Mintern paid a visit to Sikorsky’s commercial manufacturing plant in Coatesville, Pa. earlier this month to examine the initial two baseline S-92s that are part of a 16-aircraft order placed during Heli-Expo in February. Bond’s group fleet and engineering director, Martin Whittaker, came along to get a look at the green S-92 pair that will go into service with Norsk Helikopter Service following completions at Sikorsky Global Helicopters in Coatesville.
“I’m excited. Today is a momentous day really, where we come and do our first acceptance of the aircraft. We’re very pleased to be teaming with Sikorsky,” Mintern said on Oct. 4 before a handover ceremony with more than 50 employees including Sikorsky Global Helicopters director of programs Dan Hunter and Ed Beyer, vice president and general manager. The partnership marks the first time that Bond will fly a Sikorsky variant. The World Helicopter Group subsidiary primarily operates Eurocopter types, including the AS332, AS365N3 and EC225, as well as a few AgustaWestland helicopters. Mintern noted that around 45 percent of the organization’s fleet is dedicated to HEMS/search and rescue, 30 percent to safety, environment and firefighting, and about 25 percent energy services/oil and gas.
Sikorsky Global Helicopters S-92 assembly line in Coatesville. Photo courtesy of Sikorsky
Mintern, who became CEO of Bond Aviation Group earlier this year, said that he has “taken a keen interest in HUMS and how they monitor the aircraft in real-time, and was very impressed with the intellect and the processes by which [Sikorsky engineers] review that data and support us as customers.” He implemented “100-day safety plan” following a May 2012 ditching incident involving a Bond-operated EC225 in the North Sea.
The just-completed 100-day plan covers four key areas, including managing HUMS indications “more dynamically,” according to Mintern. “We’ve worked very hard to put further barriers in place with Eurocopter,” he explained. “Safety is inherent in everything we do. We cannot work in this industry without that being at the forefront of our minds.”
Sikorsky’s Coatesville plant is home to the S-92 and S-76D production lines, as well as the S-300C. FAA issued the type certificate for the S-76D on Oct. 12, giving the green light to begin addressing a backlog that is estimated at close to $500 million. Sikorsky also reports a full order book for the S-92 through 2013, specifically noting agreements with offshore and SAR/utility operators.