AW189. Photo courtesy of Leonardo
CHC Helicopter is introducing the Leonardo AW189 and Airbus H175 to its global fleet, launching what the company calls its “super medium aircraft program” for operations in the North Sea and Australia.
The operator said it is committing to leases for three new Leonardo AW189s and two Airbus H175s from Milestone Aviation that will be configured for new customer contracts for “energy transport missions” in those regions.
“We are working closely with Milestone to carefully build a productive, safe and reliable fleet to meet the varying needs of our customers throughout the world,” said CHC Helicopter President/CEO Karl Fessenden. He said CHC’s fleet productivity has improved significantly since the company emerged from U.S. bankruptcy proceedings in March and now “matches our historical peak levels before the oil and gas downturn.”
CHC plans to use the long-range AW189s and H175s for missions that traditionally have been limited to heavy helicopters and to access offshore platforms that are not designed to support the heavier aircraft. Those capabilities could help CHC and its customers reduce overall costs per passenger.
Milestone President/CEO Daniel Rosenthal said that GE Capital Aviation Services company has “worked very closely with CHC since their restructuring to review their fleet needs and provide both the aircraft and capital solutions, through operating lease and debt financing, that meet those needs.”
The lessor played a critical part in forging a successful plan for CHC to emerge from bankruptcy. The plan, which the presiding bankruptcy judge approved in March, called for the operator to get $300 million in new capital from existing creditors and additional asset-based financing commitments of $150 million from Milestone and its affiliates (as well as terms for restructured aircraft leases).
Word of the super medium leases came as CHC is investing about $6.6 million in its North Sea operations, according to the offshore industry news site Energy Voice. That news outlet said CHC has streamlined operations at Sumburgh, Shetland Islands facilities and is redeveloping its base in Aberdeen, Scotland.