Helicopter operator Bristow Group is targeting a number of new opportunities to supply search and rescue services as governments increasingly outsource provision to the private sector.
Earlier this year subsidiary Bristow Helicopters won a 10-year contract to take over the running of UK SAR operations from the nation's armed forces, commencing in 2015.
Speaking on a second-quarter earnings call on 8 November, Mark Duncan, senior vice-president commercial at the Texas-headquartered company, said a successful implementation of the UK contract will lead to other potential deals. "We expect future outsourcing of that type to rely on the success of the [UK] project," he said.
However, the majority of near-term opportunities are being generated by customers in the oil and gas segment, which are setting up operations in new locations without local SAR cover, but with a "requirement to provide that service to the offshore workforce", says Duncan. "That's providing most of the incremental opportunities."
Bristow has identified 16 different opportunities for SAR work, including Australia, Brazil, Libya, the Netherlands, Nigeria and the Falkland Islands, where it is pre-qualified to bid for a contract from the UK government.
Since June it has used two Sikorsky S-92s based in Sumburgh, Shetland to provide SAR cover for the UK authorities. In July these were augmented by a second pair of S-92s operating from Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis. Since the start of the so-called Gap SAR work, those aircraft have performed 120 missions, says Bristow.
Meanwhile, the company continues working to return its global fleet of Eurocopter EC225s to full service, following the type's October 2012 grounding, which was only lifted in July this year.
Bristow says five aircraft have been modified and returned to operations, and it has embarked on an engagement process with customers to ensure the rest of the contracted fleet is redeployed. "What's delaying that is that customers are going to their workforce and making sure they are fully confident in the safety of the aircraft," says Duncan.
It has additional examples of the Super Puma on order and has also exercised several options it had for the type, says Duncan. Its filings to the US Securities and Exchange Commission indicate that four options were converted to firm orders during the quarter, although it does not specify the make or model of those aircraft.
Operating revenue for the quarter stood at $378.6 million, with net income of $110.6 million. However, this latter figure was buoyed by one-off net income of $67.9 million from the sale of its 50% share in UK-based FB Heliservices to partner Cobham.