Maintenance, repair and overhaul company Heli-One is looking to make a move into the crowded and competitive light helicopter maintenance market, and would base this service at its “high skilled, low-cost” Polish facility in an attempt to woo customers and increase its profit margins.
Delta, British Columbia-headquartered Heli-One is a subsidiary of Canadian operator CHC, for which it supports a fleet of 200+ medium and large helicopters.
“The top end of the helicopter spectrum will remain our focus,” says Helge Grosfjell, regional sales director for Heli-One, which also has bases in Stavanger, Norway and Fort Collins, Colorado.
Heli-One is no stranger to the sector. In 2011, the company clinched a contract to upgrade the Lithuanian State Border Guard’s EC135 light twin duo. “This contract has given us the opportunity to show [light helicopter operators] what we can do. Heli-One is exploring a few possibilities,” Grosfjell continues. “For example, we currently support the 20+ Super Pumas for the German [Federal] police, but we would like to look after their entire 100+ helicopter fleet, which includes EC155s and EC135s.”
Heli-One admits the light helicopter MRO sector is “fiercely competitive”, so in an attempt to attract new business and drive down costs, it would undertake the work at its maintenance plant in Rzeszow, southeast Poland, where the cost of labour is much lower than at its main European facility in Stavanger. A new hangar is under construction and scheduled for completion next year, Grosfjell says.
Meanwhile, Heli-One has secured a contract from Norwegian operator Lufttransport to upgrade two AS332 L1s to perform all-weather search and rescue mission in the Arctic.
The medium twins will each undergo around 25 modifications, including the installation of a forward looking infrared camera system with an operator’s console and a EuroNav moving map.
Both upgraded aircraft are scheduled to enter service on 1 April next year, and will operate from Svalbard, midway between mainland Europe and the North Pole.